After 57 years, this timeless tradition continues to gain momentum ...

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Nothing captures the tranquility of fishing and the allure of the river like the story of Huckleberry Finn’s timeless adventure.

'We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off the sleepiness. It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs looking up at the stars...'

VFW Post 7319 in Wagner, S.D., has kept this adventure alive by getting local kids out fishing for the past 57 years. Dubbed Huck Finn Day, the event is held at Wagner Lake every summer, and it's been an annual tradition in South Dakota since 1952.

The idea is for kids to participate in a fishing contest where the child who catches the heaviest fish wins. The kids were split into three age groups: 2-6, 7-10 and 11-15.

“There were eight members of my Post and our Ladies Auxiliary there to help set up the event, weigh the fish and present prizes to the winning children,” said Quartermaster Bruce Krentz of Post 7319, who has taken part in the event every year since becoming a member in 1968.

The top three boys and top three girls of each age group were given prizes, and the top two received bicycles donated by Post 7319 and Dante Lake Club. A local woman also got involved by donating two small bikes in memory of her mother. Those were raffled off to two toddlers.

“It’s so delightful to see the kids grinning from ear to ear as they hold out their very own catch,” said Krentz. “They just beam with excitement.”

More than 100 kids took part in this year’s festivities, as well as parents and VFW members who came out to share in the fun.

“It’s important for our Post to share traditions. We want the community, and especially youngsters, to have a positive impression and better understanding of VFW and what we are all about,” said Krentz.



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