44th frog jump contest Saturday at Fairfield Community Center Grounds
The Fairfield Boys Club's 44th frog-jumping contest will be held Saturday at the Fairfield Community Center Grounds. Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m. and contests will begin at 11:30 a.m. Contestants may bring their own frog, or rent one from the club.
Competitors in five age groups will place their frogs in the center of a circular-marked field, and the winning frog is the first to hop outside the larger surrounding circle. Winners in each division will receive a trophy, as well as a chance to compete in the jump-off for the $50 grand prize.
Club President Shawn Shaftic estimated that each category had between 15 and 20 competitors last year and about 250 people attended the event. The fathers and sons of the club spent last weekend collecting frogs from various local ponds for the race.
“It's a good family event and we make it fun and entertain the kids. People bring canopies and lawn chairs to watch,” Shaftic said. “It's looked forward to every year. The boys get to help out. The fathers and sons go out and catch frogs and spend time together. My guys were looking forward to Saturday and all this week hitting the ponds and playing with spotlights.”
Shaftic said all the frogs would be returned back to the ponds after race day.
The purpose of the event, Shaftic explained, is to raise funds for the Boys Club, so that the fathers and sons in the club may go on trips throughout the year. He said the group holds several camp outings at Powdermill Nature Reserve throughout the summer and plans to travel to Hershey Park and to see the battlefield at Gettysburg later this year.
Recently, the club members returned from a trip to Erie, where Shaftic said the fathers and sons went the Splash Lagoon water park and visited the Maritime Museum to learn about the history of the Great Lakes. They also stopped in Titusville, the site of the first oil well in Pennsylvania.
“The Boys Club is for fathers to spend time with their sons,” Shaftic stated. “It affords them a lot of time and opportunities for sons and dads to bond, do some outdoor activities, and it's also very educational. It's in our by-laws that we have to do something educational each trip, that way it's not just a free-for-all. It's a great club. We do a lot of things that the boys enjoy and look forward to.”
The contest is one of three annual fundraisers the club holds, including selling sandwiches at the Ye Olde Hot Sausage booth at Fort Ligonier Days and a toy bash. With member dues at a ceremonial 50 cents a year, Shaftic said these benefits are the club's big chance to raise money to be able to offer these kinds of trips.“Three fundraisers a year is pretty much all we do to be able to do all that we do. That's been long standing,” Shaftic commented. “They are run very efficiently and very effectively and they raise a lot of money to do a lot for these kids.”
Shaftic's 9-year-old son Logan has competed in the frog jump for the last two years. He said he enjoys hanging out and competing against his friends. And although Logan said he has not won anything yet, he is poised to take the trophy this year.
Age divisions are: tadpoles — age 6 and under; peepers — ages 7 to 9; croakers — age 10 to 12; froggers — age 13 to 15; and bullfrogs — age 16 and older. Parents may help tadpoles during the preliminary round. Division winners will receive a trophy and will compete in a jump off for a $50 cash grand prize.
“Come and have fun,” Logan urges to those interested in competing. “It's not that complicated. Just put the frog in the middle and watch it hop.”