It's the next best thing to being back on the Mississippi with Sam Clemens himself.
Continuing today and Sunday, the 12th annual Huck Finn Country and Bluegrass Jubilee whoops and hollers its loose-limbed way over 500 acres of river-bottom land called Mojave Narrows Regional Park, just south of Victorville.
In a weekend packed with the kind of entertainment whomped up by barefoot kids before the advent of television, there will be egg-tossing, greased-pole climbing, tomahawk throwing, searching for nickels in a haystack (they were plumb out of needles) and that messy but memorable grand old competition known as throwing meadow muffins for distance.
Along with the contests, today's events are graced by Lacy J. Dalton and Larry Sparks in concert, with clogging and square-dancing for them as can't keep their feet from tapping. In keeping with the Tom Sawyer-Huck Finn ambiance, there's also river-raft building, musket loading, a contest to judge Southern California's most outrageous liars and another to determine who looks the most like the irrepressible Huck.
On Sunday, children 6 to 11 will draw lots to determine who will ride a hay wagon (leaving at 4 p.m.) in Injun Joe's Treasure Hunt, an hourlong search in the woods for the old reprobate and his buried treasure. A contest in fence-painting (what else?) will occupy gullible youngsters, while their older counterparts, intrepid competitors all, fortified with strong coffee and morning flapjacks, will endeavor to heave meadow muffins for distance, in the Great Western Cowchip Throwing Championship at noon.
Meanwhile, an old-style big-top circus--the kind that traveled small towns in the 19th Century--will hoist 10,000 square feet of canvas to accommodate 1,200 spectators at each of four shows: today at noon and 5:30 p.m.; Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m. (free with Jubilee admission).
Continuous country music, crafts like blacksmithing and sign carving, and mouth-watering barbecue will compete for attention with a petting zoo, a Mountain Man Village, free fishing.
Jubilee hours are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. today, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Daily admission is $6 adults, $3 ages 6-11, free for under 6; parking and fishing are free. Camping is available for $8 a night, while lodging is available in nearby Victorville, (619) 245-2226. Telephone number of the Huck Finn Jubilee is (714) 780-8810.
Directions: Take Interstate 15 to Bear Valley exit, go east for 4 miles to Ridgecrest Avenue, then north 3 miles to the park.