The Jumping Frog Jubilee and Calaveras County Fair held each year in May is back this week, and it includes the famous Frog Jumping Contest based on the literary works of Mark Twain. The world record jump took place 27 years ago in 1986 with Rosie the Ribetter jumping 21′ 5 ¾”. Last year’s winner, Bozos, jumped 19’1″. The winner receives a bronzed plaque embedded in the sidewalk of downtown Angels Camp, where a big frog statue sits on a post.
Jumping Frog Jubilee & County Fair May 16-19, 2013. Location: 101 Frogtown Road, Angels Camp, California. Daily admission: $8-10; $5 parking. frogtown.org
From a Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) look alike reciting the story about the “Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, to Country Western sensation and American Idol finalist Bucky Covington singing in concert, the annual fair has everything you can imagine. MotoX & Bullriding Friday night, Destruction Derby on Sunday Night, Saddle Queen, Miss Calaveras, the carnival, the midway, and a whole lot of story telling make this event one of the best small town fairs in America. New in 2011 is The Grove (possibly named after the redwood groves in Calaveras Big Trees State Park,) a beer garden where you can remember the days when you could sit in the shade, sip on a nice cool beer and listen to music after a long ride in the sun. Sponsored by Blue Moon Brewery, it features icy beers and tasty music from bands.
Set in the foothills of the Sierras in California Gold Country an hour’s drive and approx. 50 miles east of Stockton, Angels Camp is filled with stories and lore surrounding the California Gold Rush. If you have a tall tale to tell, you can put your money where your mouth in the Jumping Frog Jubilee contest. Maybe your frog can jump the furthest, and maybe it can’t.
Here’s an excerpt from the Mark Twain recitation, part of the celebration each year at the Jumping Frog Jubilee:
Well, thish’yer Smiley had rat’tarriers, and chicken’cocks, and tomcats and all them kind of things, till you couldn’t rest, and you couldn’t fetch nothing for him to bet on but he’d match you. He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he calc’lated to educate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he did learn him, too. He’d give him a little punch behind, and the next minute you’d see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut — see him turn one summerset, or maybe a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat’footed and all right, like a cat. He got him up so in the matter of ketching flies, and kep’ him in practice so constant, that he’d nail a fly every time as fur as he could see him.
Smiley said all a frog wanted was education, and he could do ‘most anything — and I believe him. Why, I’ve seen him set Dan’l Webster down here on this floor. Dan’l Webster was the name of the frog — and sing out, ‘Flies, Dan’l, flies!’ and quicker’n you could wink he’d spring straight up and snake a fly off’n the counter there, and flop down on the floor ag’in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn’t no idea he’d been doin’ any more’n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor’ard as he was, for all he was so gifted. And when it come to fair and square jumping on a dead level, he could get over more ground at one straddle that any animal of his breed you ever see. Jumping on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand; and when it came to that, Smiley would ante up money on him as long as he had a red.