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Fairfield Boys Club to host 45th annual frog jump

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Fairfield Boys Club will conduct its 45th annual Frog Jumping Contest on Saturday at the Fairfield Community Center Grounds, at 170 Beauford Road off of state Route 711 North of Ligonier.

“Everyone who participates in this event enjoys themselves,” said club member, Bejo Nanni of New Florence. “We all have a blast.”

The community is invited to bring their own frog or rent one for a small fee from the Boy's Club to participate in the family-friendly event.

Registration is from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Jumping starts at 11:30 a.m.

Cost is $1 per jump and participants may purchase an unlimited amount of jumps.

“The more jumps you get, the better chance you have of advancing,” said Nanni, who has participated in the event for the last 10 years with son, Steffan.

Participants will compete in five different age divisions: Tadpoles (ages 6 and under), Peepers (ages 7-9), Croakers (ages 10-12), Froggers (ages 13-15), and Bullfrogs (ages 16 and up).

Parents may help the Tadpole participants only during the preliminary rounds.

Participants, standing in the center of the ring, can hold their frogs until the announcer says “go,” but after that point a “no-touching” rule applies. Some individuals choose to coax their frog along by blowing on it or patting the ground beside or behind it.

There will be a trophy winner in each division. Division winners will compete in a jump-off for a $50 cash grand prize.

Winners will be selected for “longest frog” and “heaviest frog.”

Club members spend several weeks catching frogs in local ponds with permission of the owners. Around 200 frogs are usually collected for the event.

“It's best to go at night,” said Nanni. “The boys go out with a flashlight and a net. They're very quiet and cautious.”

One member is designated the “keeper of the frogs,” and is in charge of the frog barrels where everyone deposits their catch each night.

“The keeper changes the water, keeps the frogs cool and makes sure they are fed,” said Rus Davies.

Davies, an honorary lifetime member of the club, who has participated in activities since 1984 when his son was in first grade, said everyone has a job to do to make the contest a success.

“All the Fairfield Boys Club events and activities are structured to ‘learn by doing,'” Davies said.

Prepping for the contest includes mowing and preparing the contest area, the jumping circles and the refreshment area.

“The day of the contest it's ‘all hands on deck' with fathers, boys, mothers and daughters and occasionally grandparents seeing to their assigned task,” said Davies. “There is registration, frog rental, PA system set up, announcer and scorekeeper stations, briefing of the judges, shade setup, refreshment stand preparation and staffing.”

The Frog Jumping Contest is one of the organization's main annual fundraisers.

The club began in 1967 by a group of men who wanted their sons to be able to enjoy social activities. One of the founding members had participated in a frog jumping contest and decided it would be a fun group event. The contest took off and became an annual tradition for the organization.

“I guess we have done OK, since this is our 45th year,” Davies said.

Judges for the event have included local business people, clergy and other dignitaries. State Representatives Jess Stairs and Mike Reese have helped judge in the past, as well as members of their staffs.

Refreshments such as pizza, hot dogs, pop, chips and candy will be available for sale at the event. “As a reward and thank you, we have a corn roast the week after the contest,” said Davies. “Everyone gets a chance to relax and enjoy themselves until we start to prepare for our main fundraiser, Fort Ligonier Days, where we sell our famous hot sausage sandwiches.”

The event is a tradition for some families.

“People like it so well they come back every year,” Nanni said. “It is really is a lot of fun.”

For more information, call Shawn Shaftic at 814-446-5659 or Jeff Kamler 814-446-5212.

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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