of the more memorable road trips I did in college was up north to the Calaveras County Fair. Although a county
fair may not sound too exciting, this one has a very special twist for which it is world-famous: a frog jumping contest.
Inspired by the Mark Twain short story,
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras
County, the Jumping Frog Jubilee—as the event is officially known—has been entertaining fair-goers
The contest is wonderfully simple. A frog is placed in the middle of a large circle and prompted to
jump—usually by a kid slamming his hand down as close as possible to the frog while yelling JUMP as loud he
can. Judges measure the total distance of the frog’s first three jumps.
When I attended in 1990, there was quite a bit of controversy when an adult entered the
contest with some enormous, mutant African frogs he had imported into the country. The fairgoers—mostly
locals—took great pleasure booing the out-of-towner and even greater joy rejoicing in his upset loss.
This year the tradition continues May 17-21—although there aren’t expected to be any African
ringers. If a frog jumping contest is not enough motivation for you to travel to Angels Camp in Northern California for the event, consider this: 80’s pop
group Loverboy will be playing May 19.