Friday, February 22, 2013

Chalo Nitka Festival Celebrates 65 Years In Glades

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- The 65th annual Chalo Nitka Festival kicks off Saturday, March 2 at 10 a.m. with the parade, from Riverside Drive along Avenue J, followed by the opening of the festival grounds on Tenth Street at 11 a.m.

(Video: Scenes from a past Chalo Nitka Festival Parade)

Originally begun as a celebration of the newly “tarred” Main Street (now Ave. J) in Moore Haven, the first Chalo Nitka Festival was celebrated in 1949 with LaBelle, Pahokee, Belle Glade and Moore Haven High School bands and colorful floats leading a parade down Main Street.

Christened the Chalo Nitka Festival, which is Seminole for “Day of the Big Bass,” the festival became an annual event, featuring an annual fishing tournament saluting the Black Bass, beauty pageants culminating in the Chalo Nitka Queen contest, a parade and of course, the festival itself, which includes carnival rides, arts and crafts and food booths and special exhibits by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, including alligator wrestling, Native American clothing contests, and arts and crafts exhibits.

The Tracy Whrils, Glades EDC director said while many think of the Chalo Nitka festival as the annual event held the first Saturday in March, the Chalo Nitka Festival is actually the culminating event in a week long series centering on the Glades Youth Livestock Show and Sale, which begins the week before.

Founded in 1969, the Glades Youth Livestock Association was formed to give the youth of Glades County an opportunity to raise and show farm animals and the community a place to host the annual show and sale and the rodeo which follows each year.

“Only in Moore Haven are you likely to see the Chalo Nitka queen cleaning her steer’s stall in the Show barn or trading her tiara for a cowboy hat to compete in the barrel races, once the show is over,” Ms. Whirls said, adding that among the other popular annual events are the “Kiss the Pig” contest during the Youth Livestock sale, in which local politicians and other celebrities bid for the right to make an opponent “Kiss the Pig,” to raise funds for the Moore Haven High School Scholarship Foundation or Project Graduation.

Chalo Nitka Frontier Days Rodeo

The Chalo Nitka Festival and Ranch Rodeo kicks off in Moore Haven Friday, March 1st and Saturday, March 2nd. Rodeo action begins nightly at 7. Featuring bull riding, barrel racing and the wild cow milkin' contest. Kids 10 and under can enter the calf scramble.

Admission is $10 dollars for adults, $5 dollars for kids 6 to 12. Five and under it's free with paid adult admission.  As always, anyone wearing a 2013 t-shirt or Seminole Indian attire the day of the festival gets in free of charge.

Grown ups can unwind at the adult dance in the Doyle Conner Ag Center Friday and Saturday night, starting at 9 p.m. Must be 18 to attend. Admission is $10 per person and $5 per cooler. IDs will be checked a door. No glass containers, please.

Kid’s Day kicks off with Small Fry Fishing Contest

The annual Kid’s Day event, slated for Friday, March 1, gets underway with the annual Small Fry Fishing Contest at the Chalo Nitka Park at 8 a.m. Registration for the Small Fry Fishing contest for children ages 1-15 will begin at 8 a.m.

Cane poles and bait will be available, however, contestants may bring their own fishing gear if they prefer. Early registration is encouraged.

Following the fishing contest, children’s games sponsored by Project Graduation will begin The games include the egg race, sack race, bubble gum blowing contest, face painting, hula hoop, limbo and twist contests. Ribbons and prizes will be awarded, and refreshments will be available.

Pancakes And A Parade

The 65th annual Chalo Nitka Festival slated for Saturday, March 2 traditionally begins with the pancake breakfast, sponsored by the Junior Class, at Moore Haven Elementary from 7:30 to 10 a.m.

At ten a.m., the parade begins with line up on Riverside Drive, before winding its way up Avenue J. to end near the Chalo Nitka Grounds. Glades County elected officials, dignitaries representing the Seminole Tribe of Florida, royalty from area festivals, including the Chalo Nitka Queen and her court, will participate in a range of conveyances, ranging from convertibles to swamp buggies, horses to ATVs, golf carts to boats.

(Applications are also being accepting from church groups, civic groups, community associations and others interested in participating in the 65th annual Chalo Nitka parade, Saturday, March 2.

There will be no entry fee for the parade. Businesses, churches, civic groups, school groups and others interested in participating in the parade may stop by the EDC office at 998 US 27 S., Moore Haven to pick up or fill out a parade entry form.)

Craft and food booths open at the Chalo Nitka grounds at 11 a.m., with opening ceremonies slated for 11:30. A variety of live entertainment, from alligator wrestling to clogging, are scheduled throughout the day.

Grand Marshal Larry Luckey

Larry Luckey, retired Glades County Property Appraiser has been named Festival and Parade Grand Marshal for 2013.

According to Glades County Economic Development Council executive director and Chalo Nitka Committee member Tracy Whirls, the Chalo Nitka Festival Committee voted to honor Mr. Luckey in recognition of his many years of community service in Glades County.

“Mr. Luckey may be best known for his 28-year tenure as Glades County’s property appraiser, but we wanted to recognize him for his years of tireless service to Glades County civic organizations,” Ms. Whirls said, noting that Mr. Luckey has been a fixture in serving as the master of ceremonies for the Ortona Cane Grinding Festival, which he helped originate, the Sour Orange Festival in Lakeport and the Chalo Nitka Festival itself.

Mr. Luckey is a fifth generation resident of Glades County, and, as such the unofficial historian for Glades County. His passion for history inspired him to work closely with Robert Carr, the executive director of the Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, in Davie, on development of the Ortona

Indian Mound Park, which now bears his name. A founding member of the Ortona Volunteer Fire Department, Mr. Luckey spearheaded the launch of the annual Ortona Cane Grinding Festival to raise funds for the VFD, and for many years manned the huge iron kettle and vintage cane grinding machine with which the authentic cane syrup is made each year.

1 comment:

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