Frog Jumping

Frog jumping is a competitive sport in which people enter their most athletic frogs into a variety of events to jump particular distances.

Annual frog jumping contests are part of the local culture in a variety of towns across the United States, with regular gatherings staged in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Washington, Maine, Missouri, Louisiana, New York, Wisconsin, and Manitoba, Canada.

Not to be confused with Leap Frogging, in which it's humans doing the jumping, usually over each other backs, and actual frogs aren't involved at all. That said, if you've heard about an International Leap Frog competition please let me know and I'll add a post about that!

Can you Train a Frog to Jump?

The short answer is “no”.

It’s down to each “frog jockey” to learn what their frog needs to have the best chance of success. Professional frog teams travel from all around the world and it’s up to each participant to encourage his or her frog to start jumping from the initial lily pad, but keep in mind that once a frog had been placed on the starting lily pad, contestants are no longer allowed to touch their frog – or face disqualification.

Frog jockey must ensure that the jumping frog continues to move ahead in a straight line … from the lily pad where it began to wherever it lands after its third jump. Which means that if your frog jumps in a circle, no matter how big, it will be scored as zero feet!

Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee

The Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee is a four-day festival, which attracts frog-fans from all over the country – and the world.

The event is held every third weekend in May (Thursday through Sunday), and combines the noble sport of frog jumping with various events to honor the story that launched Mark Twain’s career, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County (more on that below).

The Jumping Frog Jubilee is one of the longest running fairs in California. Unfortunately in 2020 the Coronavirus epidemic forced cancellation of the event, however until then it had taken place every year for over four decades!

With 4000 entrants in 2007, participants in this longest-jumping frog competition had the chance of winning $750 … or $5,000 if their frog broke “Rosie the Ribeter’s” 1986 impressive world record of 21 feet 5+34 inches (6.547 m).

The Calaveras County event sets rigorous rules governing frogs’ health, such as:

  • Restricting the number of leaps per day
  • Requiring the playing of relaxing music in their enclosures

And several things aren’t allowed:

  • It’s prohibited to enter specimens of the endangered California red-legged frog in the competition
  • It’s explicitly forbidden (and considered poor sportsmanship) to weigh down any participating frog in any way, as the frog in the Twain story was by the stranger who cheated in the tournament as stated.

Literary Beginnings

It was Mark Twain’s short novella “The Celebrated LThe Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” which popularized frog jumping, and since 1928, an event inspired by Twain narrative has been conducted yearly in Angels Camp, Calaveras County, California.

Other gatherings staged in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Washington, Maine, Missouri, Louisiana, New York, Wisconsin, and Manitoba, Canada.