VICTORVILLE — Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn have been transplanted to the high desert in San Bernardino County. From Friday through next Sunday, the young heroes of Mark Twain's novels will be saluted with events that recall their boyhood adventures in Hannibal, Mo., and along the Mississippi River.
Youngsters can join in a fishing derby and enter contests to paint fences and build a river raft, all part of the three-day, 12th annual Huck Finn Jubilee. Cow-chip throwing and raw-egg tossing are among the many other activities. Youths will get to climb greased poles and search for nickels in a haystack, too. For adults there is country and bluegrass music.
Camping at the Park
The Huck Finn Jubilee takes place near the Mojave River, many miles from the mighty Mississippi. The site is Mojave Narrows Regional Park, an 840-acre nature preserve in Victor Valley. Camping is available under the stars or in an RV.
Paiute Indians once sheltered their families among the rocks and trees at the narrows, now a popular spot for hiking and picnicking. Today's visitors can fish in Horseshoe Lake, a picturesque waterway shaded by cottonwood and willow trees.
On Friday, the first day of the Jubilee, the person who pulls out the catfish with the longest whiskers wins the fishing derby and a $1,000 savings bond. Drop a hook from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You can rent a pedal boat to cruise around the lake and its island. Look for some of the 200 resident and migratory species.
Also, mount up at the Mojave Narrows Riding Stables for a guided trip on horseback along the historic Mojave River. Early riders were Indians, Spanish missionaries and settlers who used the river as a trail. The first wagon road in the area was made by the Army's Mormon Battalion in 1848.
Horses for Rent
During Jubilee weekend, horses can be rented for $8 an hour; July through Labor Day the stables will be open daily, except Mondays, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pony rides are available for children under 6.
Also during the Huck Finn celebration, and on Saturday evenings in the summer, you can jump on a hay wagon for a horse-drawn ride around the meadows. There are goats, rabbits and other farm animals in a small zoo at Mojave Narrows Park.
Get there from Los Angeles by driving east on Interstate 10 or the Pomona Freeway (California 60) to join Interstate 15 north toward Victorville. Exit at Bear Valley Road and go east four miles to Ridgecrest Avenue, then three miles north to the park.
Ridgecrest Avenue skirts the Spring Valley Lake residential area (and becomes Yates Road) before reaching the entrance to the park, a former working ranch. Entry is $3 per vehicle. Hours are 7:30 a.m. until sunset.
During the Huck Finn Jubilee, admission for adults is $6 per day, $3 for children 6 through 11 years. Fishing is included, except during Friday's catfish derby when entrants pay $3.
At other times, fishing costs $3 for anyone 6 years or older; a California fishing license is required (and sold at the park) for anyone 16 years or older. You can hook into bass and bluegill, as well as catfish.
Camping is $9 per unit per night, on a first-come, first-served basis; no hookups. During the jubilee it's $8 a night.
Among the campers next weekend will be a village of mountain men who wear furs, walk around with muskets and tell tall tales. The Jubilee also will have at least 30 stands with handicrafts for sale, as well as food and drinks.
Buried Treasure Hunt
Youngsters can enter a Huck Finn look-a-like contest and join Injun Joe's hunt for buried treasure. Doc Evans' old-time medicine show and the Boston Man's magic tricks will perform.
Clogging and square dancing are part of the on-going entertainment, with bluegrass and country music on the main stage. For details, call the Jubilee producers at (714) 780-8810 or the park at (619) 245-2226.
If you decide to spend the night but don't want to camp at the park, return to Interstate 15 and continue north to the next exit, Palmdale Road/California 18 West. A right turn leads to the 200-room Green Tree Inn, while a left turn takes you over the freeway to the six-story Holiday Inn.
An assortment of restaurants are near this interstate interchange, but the major attraction is a timbered structure resembling a Western fort--the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum. Turn right on Kentwood Boulevard just past the Holiday Inn, and go right again on Civic Drive.
Enter near Trigger, Rogers' co-starring horse. However, the real palomino is inside, preserved. Another faithful companion of the King of the Cowboys, his dog Bullet, is on display, too.
A lifelong collection of memorabilia and photos portrays America's favorite cowboy-and-cowgirl couple from their childhoods to the present.
You'll see everything from Rogers' fancy saddles and Dale's inspirational books to souvenirs the public could buy during the couple's movie and television heydays.
Plan an hour or more to tour the museum, which is open everyday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $3, $2 for senior citizens and teens 13 to 16 years, $1 for children 6 to 12 years. Phone (619) 243-4547.
Rejoin Interstate 15 south to return to Los Angeles via Interstate 10 or California 60.
Round trip from Los Angeles to the Huck Finn Jubilee in Victorville is 165 miles.