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Annual Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee Deemed a Success
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Running May 16-19th, the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee in Angels Camp, Calif., was “hopping” with enthusiasm from attendees and the small green competitors that make this event entirely unique. With a theme of “Gold Pans and Cattle Brands” the fair provided a wide range of thrills.

Advance fair admission tickets for Thursday and Friday cost $14 for adults ages 13-64, $12 for kids and seniors. Saturday and Sunday admission was $17 and $14 respectively. Children were admitted free on Thursday, and those 5 and under were always free. A frog jump and admission combo was good for any day's admission and priced at $20.

The event leapt to a start with a children's parade in downtown Angels Camp and concluded its fun packed run with the venue's renowned Destruction Derby on Sunday evening.  

Classic Amusement, headquartered in Hayward, Calif., provided the carnival rides this year, with two separate ride areas, one for adults and big kids, and another designated for kiddie rides. There were games and food stands, too. Single-day, unlimited ride wristbands could be purchased in advance for $38 or purchased for $45 after the fair began. The carnival company used Magic Money rather than cash for ride, game, and food purchases. The Balloon Gondola Wheel was a popular family ride at the event as was the Groovy Bus, one of the top kiddie attractions. Each ride took 4-5 tickets; individual tickets were priced at $1 each, per sheet of 50 tickets. Popular games included the Duck Pond and Balloon Bust.
While the carnival offered adrenaline pumping thrills and glowing LED lights at night, the Jumping Frog Jubilee Fun Jumps was just as much of a thrill at this fair. To enter, the jumps cost $5 per person per jump, with kids allowed to jump frogs for $2 on Thursday only, and the International Frog Jump Grand Finals beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Although some frog enthusiasts brought their own little green friend, fun jumpers were able to rent a frog on site and take a tour of the Frog Spa. What is a frog spa? Its where dedicated volunteers pamper the competitive froggies with rest and restorative environments. Traveling frogs participating in the four-day event can stay here for the duration.

After all, the jumps result in big prizes for humans based on three separate, distant jumps undertaken by the frogs themselves. Distances are recorded, with the 50 longest jumpers competing in the Grand Finals for awards and cash. Any frog jumper that breaks the world record of 21 feet, 5 3/4 inches wins a $20,000 prize. That's a lot of lily pads.

Fair organizers reported Sunday's International Frog Jump Grand Finals winner was Lillian Fasano, or rather her frog - The Frog Father, who leapt an outstanding 20 feet, 5.5 inches to claim the prize. The 86-year-old Fasano is a long-time member of the Gustine Frog Team and has been jumping frogs at the fair for over 60 years. She came close to breaking the world's record.

A second place win went to Bria Heintz, who was also the 2021 champion. Her frog, named Jaguar, jumped 20 feet, 3.75 inches. Mike Ziehlke Sr. took third place with his frog Pond Star, who jumped a strong 19 feet, 6.25 inches.

The first frog jump event was held in 1928 in Angels Camp. It became a part of the fair in 1930s and has continued to this day as an annual event that honors the famous, regionally set Mark Twain short story titled “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

Despite the local focus, competitors travel from around the state to compete; past champs are allowed to join the present year's competitors and camp out at the fair's Frog Pond.

Humans could get a little lively themselves at the fair, with music by bands that this year included the Rock Bottom Boys, AmaZe, Alara, Plan B and Blue Line. The headline music act, singer-songwriter Ned Ledoux, took the venue's main stage on Friday at 8 p.m. Music was free with fair admission.

Fairgoers could also take part in a pie eating contest, an arm-wrestling event, or watch the Calaveras Rodeo Queen horsemanship competition, a speech competition, and a coronation ceremony in the event venue's Ranch House. There was face painting, melon carving, and
livestock shows, too, as well as two major auction events: The Ag Mechanics Industrial Arts Auction and the Junior Livestock Auction.

Other fair offerings included pony rides, magic shows, and contests such as a jigsaw puzzle solving event, a kids' tractor pull, baking competition, and the Calaveras Idol musical competition. There were cooking demos and merchandise vendors, as well as a daily magic show, too. Pony rides drew little cowboys and cowgirls; a professional art show filled the Frogeteria, and a Book Mobile Tour held sway at Tom Sawyer Hall.

And of course, there were plenty of dining opportunities highlighting local vendors such as the Birria tacos and ramen served at Romero's Cocina. The fair's tasty “best of” awards included best fair food of corn dogs from Top Notch Concessions; best dessert to JLT Ice Cream; and best packaged food to Moke Hill Nuts.

On Saturday evening, the fair's main event was a CCPRA Rodeo by Rockin' M. Rodeo company, and come Sunday, the incredibly popular Destruction Derby, produced by Whiskey Slide Productions, took place in the arena. This year's winner was Cody Thompson in a thrilling, car-crashing event.

Overall, the fair, which is held the 3rd weekend of every May, is one of the most popular and signature events in the Gold Country region. The event draws thousands, and this year was no exception. The unaudited fair attendance numbers were estimated to be approximately 37,500 as of this writing. The Industrial Arts Auction brought in more than $35,000, with The Junior Livestock Auction raising over $1.2 million dollars for the youth of Calaveras County.

The Breaking Boundaries livestock show provided kids with disabilities a chance to show their livestock entries. The Junior Fairboard, Miss Calaveras, Junior Livestock and Rodeo Queen programs awarded 16 scholarships for future education to its winning participants.

Per a Calaveras County fair spokesperson “Due to the unwavering support and…efforts of many, the 2024 Jubilee was a success. Working together, the 2024 event exceeded all expectations.” Now that's a leap worth taking.


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