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Jumping Frog Day

“He ketched a frog one day, and took him home, and said he cal'klated to edercate him; and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back yard and learn that frog to jump.” ~ The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, Mark Twain, 1865

Got a talented and athletic frog? Inspired by Mark Twain's famous tall tale, The Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee competition takes place over 4 days on the third weekend in May in "Frogtown", Angels Camp, California, a historic 19th century mining town . In this famous short story, the narrator recounts the history of Jim Smiley, an inveterate gambler, willing to bet on anything and everything. He catches a frog, whom he names Dan'l Webster, and spends three months training it to jump. When a stranger visits the camp, Jim shows off Dan'l and offers to bet $40 that it can out-jump any other frog in Calaveras County. The stranger nobbles Dan'l by feeding him lead shot to weigh him down, causing Jim to lose the bet! When this perfidy is discovered, Jim realizes that he has been cheated and chases after the stranger, but never catches him. Today, aspiring and well-trained frogs in Calaveras County jump further than any other frog jumping contest in the nation! The current record holder, Rosie the Ribeter, completed her three consecutive jumps in 1986 for a total of 21 feet, 5¾ inches! Ribbit, Ribbit! 🐸

Jumping Frog Day was inspired by Mark Twain's famous first short story, published in 1865, “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog” which was given several subsequent titles including:  “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” and “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”.


Mark Twain’s story is about a pet frog named Dan’l Webster, and a casual competition between two men betting on whose frog jumps higher. Mark Twain claimed he based this tale on story he heard at the Angels Hotel, in Angels Camp, a historic mining town in Gold Country, California.  

The annual Jumping Frog Jubliee, held every May in Calaveras County, California includes competitive frog jumping.  A serious business, frogs at this competition jump longer than those at any other competitions throughout the country, a fact which has been put down to the techniques and enthusiasm of the frog jockeys, rather than the frogs.  The final spot where the frog lands after three jumps is the distance measured.

By designer Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan employs the subdued colors of the common frog.


For more about the history behind the story and the frog jumping contest, including the world record holder (Rosie the Ribeter for the 1986 record of 21 feet, 5¾ inches ), click the jumping frog!

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