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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
25 Mar 2023


NextImg:‘Tastes Like Chicken’ Wins Annual Frog Jumping Contest in San Juan Capistrano

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif.—The excitement of dozens of children and parents was audible at Los Rios Park as volunteers prepared three frogs for the city’s 7th annual Frog Jumping Contest.

“Okay, you guys ready to race?” asked Jim Taylor, president of San Juan Capistrano Fiesta Association—the hosting organization and the largest volunteer group in the city—over the microphone as children sitting behind a roped-off circle chose one of three frogs for the win.

Children and families enjoy the 7th annual Frog Jumping Contest in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on March 24, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“The first frog to make it to the rope wins, and you all have three chances for your frog to get there first!” Taylor said.

The three frogs—“Tastes Like Chicken,” “Hot Legs,” and “Paddy Hop”—sat calmly in the hands of the volunteers before being placed on the ground for their time to jump.

Because the frogs were not able to jump on command, it depends on the handlers to figure out what makes the frogs move toward the finish line, where dozens of children were eagerly awaiting their hopeful winner.

Children and families enjoy the 7th annual Frog Jumping Contest in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on March 24, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“It looks like ‘Tastes Like Chicken’ might make it for the win this round!” Taylor continued commentating over the microphone. “And … he wins! All who chose ‘Taste Like Chicken’ please go collect your prize!”

Those who picked the winner were able to keep the fun going, with their prizes—miniature plastic frogs that would jump when pressed down to the floor.

Part of the Golden State’s Gold Rush heritage, the annual competition was inspired by writer Mark Twain’s story that made him famous overnight in 1865, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” where the city of Angels Camp is home to the original frog jumping contest since the late 1920s, according to the Calaveras Heritage Council.

Children and families enjoy the 7th annual Frog Jumping Contest in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on March 24, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

In San Juan Capistrano, event organizers take it a step further with a Twain impersonator on-site to not only entertain the families, but also provide historical context for the day’s event.

“The kids really love this [frog jumping contest],” Michael Fitzgibbons, donning the writer’s signature white suit and black ribbon tie, told The Epoch Times.

Mark Twain impersonator Michael Fitzgibbons performs at the 7th annual Frog Jumping Contest in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., on March 24, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“This is a great way to get the old fiesta going here in San Juan,” he said, referring to the city’s annual Festival of Swallows celebrating the return of swallows in mid-March from their winter habitat in Argentina.

The contest was a precursor to the Swallows Day Parade happening the next morning in the city’s downtown area.