One hundred and fifty years ago, a then little-known journalist who went by the pen name of “Mark Twain” published a humorous short story entitled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog.” As it so happened, this story (later renamed “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”) not only became Mark Twain’s first national literary success, but it also gave the small city of Angels Camp (in Calaveras County, CA, of course) its better-known nickname—Frogtown. The residents so embraced their town’s connection with these cute leaping critters that, in 1928, they held the first-ever Calaveras County Frog Jump. A full-blown county fair, the Frog Jumping Jubilee, is now organized around this annual competition every third weekend in May, with high-jumping frogs coming in from around the globe to compete for a trophy and cash prizes. But everyone knows that the real prize is the bragging rights secured by the proud “jockey” behind the winning frog. It’s also important to note that the organizers take frog welfare very seriously, stating on their website that “Frogs shall be housed in a safe and humane manner that ensures their protection and comfort.”
The rules are as follows: each frog is allowed three jumps in a row, and the total distance of the jumps are combined for a final score. This year’s winner, “I Don’t Know” jockeyed by Riley Kitchell, took home the trophy by jumping a combined total of 18 feet 8.5 inches! This marks another win by Kitchell, who also claimed first prize in 2013. The world’s record, however, belongs to the 1986 winner, Rosie the Ribeter (trained by frog jockey Lee Guidici), whose three consecutive leaps equalled a distance of 21 feet, 5.75 inches—an average of 7.16 feet per jump! Now that’s one amazing amphibian.
Check out the full story with photos of the winners at The Calaveras Enterprise's website.
By Maya M.