Jumping into the fun at Woodland Planters Days

Annual Frog Jump contest draws hundreds at Woodland Planters Days festival

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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photoSahara Jones, of Vancouver, poses for a photo with a loaner frog at the 46th Annual Frog Jump contest at Woodland Planters Days Saturday. Her frog's first three jumps totaled 129 inches, earning first place and netting Sahara $5 in prize money.

(/The Columbian)

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Woodland Planters Days festivities continue Sunday in downtown Woodland and at Horseshoe Lake Park.

Here’s a schedule of events:

All day: Market, car show, antique farm equipment display and Cascade Pack and Paddle rides.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: 4X4 Show & Shine

Noon to 5 p.m.: Carnival

1 to 2 p.m. Talent contest

3 to 4 p.m.: Raffle drawing

4 p.m.: Car show awards

Woodland Planters Days is packed with fun for the whole family. But Saturday afternoon was all about the frogs.

Frogs large and small showcased their hops in the 46th Annual Frog Jump sponsored by the Walter E. Hansen family. The event drew more than a hundred people to Woodland's Horseshoe Lake Park as dozens of kids and their frogs competed for contest's top prize.

The annual contest is open to kids 12 and younger. One by one, entrants take their frogs to a white launch pad in the contest arena. From there, the kids use various techniques -- including clapping, patting the ground, stomping, shouting and poking -- to get the frogs to jump. After the frogs take three hops, their total distance is measured.

Cash awards are given for the top three jumps, as well as the biggest, smallest and prettiest frogs. This year, 76 kids participated.

Sahara Jones, 12, of Vancouver claimed first place in the contest -- and $5 in award money -- when her "rented" frog hopped a total of 129 inches. Sahara didn't bring her own frog to the event; instead, she borrowed one from a collection of loaner frogs.

But she did scout out the competition before selecting a frog. The small frogs didn't jump too far. The big ones didn't move much either, she said.

"The medium ones were the best," Sahara said.

So when her turn came, Sahara plucked a medium-sized frog from the bucket and hoped for the best. After a couple claps of her hands, the frog took off hopping.

"I didn't expect him to go that far," she said.

But her frog didn't stop after three hops. He took off jumping toward the crowd, prompting squeals and screeches from the people in his path. With a little help from a spectator, Sahara was able to corral the frog.

Runaway frogs are pretty typical, said 11-year-old Seth Donald of Woodland.

"It happens every year," he said.

Seth, a regular spectator at the event, competed in the contest for the first time this year. His dime-sized frog earned him the "Smallest Frog" award and $5. The little guy only hopped about 20 inches.

Seth's brother found the tiny frog on the family's dairy farm. The frog replaced a much larger frog Seth caught earlier in the week. That frog escaped from his cage a couple days before Saturday's event.

Seth wasn't the only one who needed a replacement frog. Six-year-old Monroe Dalrymple's frog made a break for the bushes at Horseshoe Lake Park before it was her turn in the contest. The frog got away, so Monroe, after shedding a few tears, borrowed her sister's frog.

Despite the runaway frog incident, Monroe and her sisters Sophie, 9, and Emery, 5, ruled the contest a success.

"I'm pretty good with what he did," Sophie said of her frog, which jumped about 50 inches.

Sophie said she didn't need any tricks to get her frog moving. She just let him do what frogs do best.

"I just let him jump," she said.

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.