St-Pierre-Jolys frog jumping event has big cultural impact, organizer says

This weekend's National Frog Jumping Championship is part of the annual Frog Follies and Agricultural Fair.

Frog Follies started in Manitoba village in 1970 to mark visit by Royal Family

The northern leopard frog is well-established in the St-Pierre-Jolys, Man., area. (Vancouver Aquarium)

St-Pierre-Jolys will be hopping on Saturday during the National Frog Jumping Championship at the annual Frog Follies and Agricultural Fair.

On Thursday, competitors searched for frogs at the Maplewood Golf Course in the village, approximately 50 kilometres south of Winnipeg. The qualifying rounds are on Saturday, with separate categories for kids under seven years old, those under 18, and adults.

The winners will compete against each other in the finals on Sunday.

The event, and the Frog Follies fair, is the "flagship" event for St-Pierre-Jolys and the surrounding area, said board president Marie Christine Bruce.

"Rural Manitoba has a proud legacy of fairs and festivals, so we're pretty proud of that," she said.

The event is unique to the area, Bruce said. "There's not a lot of frog-catching, hopping, jumping competitions around. And it is just really fun."

Started in 1970

Frog Follies is coming up on its 50th anniversary in a few years. Bruce said the event began in 1970 to mark a visit by the Royal Family.

"The royals were coming through, and the town said, 'Well, we have to do something special. You know what, we don't really have a fair or festival going on yet. Let's set something up.' There's the whole French-frog connection, if you will," Bruce said.

The northern leopard frog is also well-established in the area. "You can hear them singing at night," Bruce said.

Bruce said her favourite part of the event is the final competition on Sunday, because all age categories compete against each other.

"So you can have somebody from the six-and-under category up against somebody, for example, from our VIP category, which is our local businesses, politicians, representatives of different organizations. So you can in theory have a five-year-old champ from his category, up against the mayor of St-Pierre or anywhere else and you don't know who's going to win."

The final jumps take place on Sunday at 4 p.m.