Governor’s Frog Jump
Frog Jump Resources
In 1928 Angels Camp paved the main street. To celebrate the occasion they held a frog jump competition. This frog jump competition was modeled after the frog jump in the famous short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, written by Mark Twain. Mark Twain spent a great deal of time in Angels Camp and first heard the jumping frog story at the Angels Hotel that still stands today. The event became known as the Jumping Frog Jubilee. Every year since 1928, with the exception of 1933 during the great depression, the Jumping Frog Jubilee has been held in Angels Camp. In 1938 the County Fair and the Jumping Frog Jubilee were combined. Today this internationally renowned event draws competitors from around the world as hundreds of jockeys and their frogs compete. The winner receives a trophy, $750 and a plaque honoring the jockey and his or her frog is embedded into the sidewalks of downtown Angels Camp. World record holders receive recognition on the plaque as a world record holder in addition to a trophy and $5,000. The current world record was set in 1986 by “Rosie the Ribiter” who jumped 21 feet 5 3/4 inches; Lee Giudici of Santa Clara CA was the jockey. There are currently 74 plaques including one commemoration Mark Twain’s Dan’l Webster and his jockey Jim Smiley located in front of the Angels Hotel. Residents and visitors are encouraged to view the “Frog Hop of Fame” commemorating this unique and historic jumping frog jubilee.
Pat Williams. formerly of Springfield was given the assignment of coordinating the Governor’s Second Annual Frog Jump Contest. He called his Springfield brother, Greg and asked him and several of his friends to go frog hunting and “to be sure to come up with some frogs”. It took two nights of stomping and tromping through the Edisto River Swamp. but he, Bubba Wiles, and Neal Bonnett, with the help of their scoutmaster, Mr. Rupert Fogle, caught two of the amphibious creatures . On Saturday of the Governors Contest, the three boys won the hearts of all South Carolinians with their frogs. Squared away on the launching pad in front of the state capitol with dignitaries all around, the famous Springfield springer, -Buckwheat,” trained by Greg, wet down with “frog juice” by Neal, and soothed with guitar music by Bubba. jumped an unbelievable 12 feet 9 1/2 inches. Not only did his leap win the tournament, but it also set a new state record. The Springfield crew went home with the prize money which they were still counting as their pictures and accomplishments made the news all up and down the southeastern coast. Buckwheat went on to the Calaveras County Fair in California.
The Springfield Mayor, Mr. Oswald Furtick, requested that Springfield be given the honor of hosting the contest. Former Governor McNair. probably realizing that the Edisto River Frogs were -untouchables”, gladly consented. so that is how it all began.
As Ms. Jackie Cooper stated in her book, Springfield in 1969 was one of the first small towns around to have its own festival, so naturally the media covered the event. When pictures of local scenes and personages hit the front paves and the action of the festivities was shown on TV, there was no way to keep this place down anymore. Shots zooming in on J.E. Beathea measuring a frog, B.K. Gleaton walking his turtle, little Sharon Hallman clutching her frog. On the front page a photo showed Lisa Cooper squeezing her frog “Idgit”.
The winning croaker that year was named Legs who jumped 15feet and 4 inches. Craig Winningham was the owner who had caught the frog in a pond near Healing Springs.
Newspaper writers and visitors concluded that there was much energy and “lots of guts” evident in a people who could take a lowly bullfrog and elevate it to the status of a racehorse…for a day!”
For several years the Amphibian winner of the Frog Jump was packed in cool, damp moss and airlifted to the national competition in California. But the price of airfreight became too high to continue; also the Fishing and Game regulations no longer allow this. However, if the winner’s name along with $6.00 is sent to Calaveras County Frog Jumping Jubilee, P.O. Box 489, Angels Camp, CA 95222, a Frog Jockey will jump the frog for you, and send any winnings your way.