Historic Hops: Jumping Frog Jubilee

A Calaveras tradition goes for big air, big records.

JUMP ON CUE: Honestly? Honestly. Honestly we're pretty sure that even in our joyful, leapy, playground-happy days as a frolicsome child that we couldn't jump very far, even with a ton of jump rope experience on our resume. But then we humans don't have frog legs, so covering great distances several times our height isn't required of us. (Well, track & field stars may disagree; those athletes consistently amaze.) The ribbit-iest creatures in the world have no problem covering great distances in a single bound, much like an amphibian Superman might be able to do. Ten feet? Twelve feet? No problem. And some of the best of the best show up, each and every year, as has been the tradition for decades, in Calaveras County, the better to put their jumping prowess to the test.

MORE THAN THE TEST, though: the record books. The Jumping Frog Jubilee, which marks its 87th year in 2014, is known for some of the airborne-iest amphibians in all the land, including some that have crossed the 20-feet mark. We mean, 20 feet! We humans compete in standing long jumps, impressively, and don't come nearly as close. It's all pretty lively, pretty historic, and pretty Mark-Twain-y, too, and it is set to leap again from Thursday, May 15 through Sunday, May 18.

FROGGY FINALS: If you want to see the frogs go mano-y-mano in a final showdown, be there on Sunday afternoon, but there are plenty of contests throughout the weekend-plus run-up to the crowning of a single winner. Plus? It's county fair time, too, in Calaveras County, so bet you'll enjoy fried food, rides, and that pretty Gold Country atmosphere that Angels Camp is known for. Just be sure to stow your copy of Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" in your bag so you can read it while there. Jumping frogs and Calaveras have gone hand-in-hand -- or, um, hand-in-web-foot -- since the 19th century.

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