MOORE HAVEN — Dr. John and Sheryl Huysman were named 2021 Grand Marshals of the 73rd annual Chalo Nitka Festival and Ranch Rodeo, in recognition of their long-standing and far-reaching service to the youth of Glades County.
According to Chalo Nitka Committee President Jacob Eighner, the Chalo Nitka Festival Committee voted to honor the Huysmans for their community service.
Natives of Kentucky, the Huysmans were employed by the Glades County School District in their various capacities for 36 years.
“Over the years, John and Sheryl have been active in many school, church, and community organizations, especially those involving our youth,” Eighner said. “Glades County Youth Livestock, Moore Haven Booster Club, Glades Youth Athletics, First Methodist Church, and St. Joseph Catholic Church have played an important part in the Huysman family lives. Throughout the years when their children were in school, they were busy with all of the fundraising/chaperoning/planning for Safety Patrol, homecoming floats, FFA, trips abroad to Europe, proms, Grad Nights, and Project Graduation.”
The Huysmans’ biography and photo appear in the 2021 Chalo Nitka program which is available at City Hall, 299 Riverside Drive S.W, in Moore Haven.
73rd annual Chalo Nitka Festival and Rodeo March 5 and 6 in Moore Haven
Originally begun as a celebration of the newly “tarred” Main Street in Moore Haven, the first Chalo Nitka Festival was celebrated in 1949.
Chalo Nitka is Seminole for “Day of the Big Bass,” according to Glades County EDC Executive Director and Chalo Nitka Committee member Tracy Whirls.
“The Chalo Nitka Festival is really the Glades County Fair, and like fairs in small towns across America, it features homemade food and arts and crafts, carnival rides and beauty queens,” Ms. Whirls said.
While some things are different this year in the wake of COVID-19, the festival with go on with a parade, arts and crafts and food booths and live entertainment.
It also features the Chalo Nitka Ranch Rodeo which kicks off Friday, March 5 and continues following the festival itself Saturday, March 6. Rodeo action, featuring bull riding, barrel racing and the wild cow milkin’ contest, begins nightly at 7 p.m.
Held as a fundraiser for Glades Youth Livestock, the Chalo Nitka Rodeo is considered among the toughest ranch rodeos in the state.
“The word is if you can win Chalo Nitka, you can win any of them,” Ms. Whirls said.
Chalo Nitka 5K Run/Walk, Pancakes, and a parade
The 73rd annual Chalo Nitka Festival kicks off with the Chalo Nitka River Run-Walk Saturday, March 6 at 7:30 a.m.
The race will start and end at Tom Perry Memorial Park,, 200 Riverside Drive S.W. in Moore Haven. The first 65 registrants will get a Chalo Nitka 5k River Run/Walk t-shirt. Because the race is held the morning of the Chalo Nitka Festival and Rodeo, participants will receive FREE admission to the festival if they are wearing their 5K shirt.
Sign-ups are at 7 a.m. with the run/walk set to begin at 7:30 a.m. Pre-registration is $20 for adults, children, $15 for 15 and under. Registration the day of the race is $25 for adults, $20 for children.
Pre-register online at chalonitka.com. You can register in person at Moore Haven City Hall, 299 Riverside Drive S.W. in Moore Haven, until 4 p.m. March 4. You can also register online at www.chalonitka.com or on Facebook.
Proceeds benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. For more information, phone 863-946-0711.
After the race, join the Moore Haven High School Junior Class at the park from 7:30 to 10 a.m. for the traditional pancake breakfast, served al fresco this year due to COVID.
At 10 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, 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. Watch for Glades County Sheriff Dave Hardin in a special recognition of Glades County’s Centennial. Glades became a county in 1921.
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, featuring the Country Rhythm Cloggers and music by Dawn Sparrow and Robbie Music will continue throughout the day.
For more information visit www.chalonitka.com or phone 863-946-0711.