WOODLAND — Competing in the 52nd annual Frog Jump at Woodland Planters Days is serious business. It takes some preparation: What’s the wind speed? How’s the terrain?
But mostly, it comes down to the right frog. Take it from Tylor Kofstad, who participated in Saturday’s Frog Jump with his two kids, 5-year-old Lane and 3-year old Corah. The Frog Jump is a long-running family tradition, he said.
“I’ve been participating since I was about 3 years old myself,” Tylor Kofstad said.
Lane, by now a seasoned 5-year veteran, confidently plopped his frog down in the middle of the competition ring, surrounded by a crowd of spectators and fellow frog-handlers. Unlike some of the other amphibious jumpers, his frog didn’t need much prompting from stomping feet or the Super Soaker water gun to get to hopping. Off it went — 89 inches. Not too shabby.
Where, pray tell, do the Kofstads get their frogs?
“It’s top-secret,” Tylor Kofstad said. “It’s kind of classified information.”
He’s laughing, so he’s probably joking. Mostly.
More than 50 kids from 4 months old to 14 years old participated in Saturday’s froggy festivities. The proud owner of the longest-jumping frog and $10 cash prize went to 1-year-old Luke Davidson, who — with a little help from the grown-ups coaxed his frog to a 139-inch leap. Honorable mentions for prettiest, ugliest, smallest and largest frogs went to 2-year-old Timber Morris, 10-year-old Jack Lindsay, 11-year-old Charlee Gilliland and 6-year-old Maxine Ripp, respectively.
The competition was emceed by Walter Hansen, who back in 1973 won $7 for his frog named Ugly — Ugly, in addition to being predictably ugly, leapt 66 inches, according to a news article from the time.
“That looks like a jumper right there,” Hansen declared into the microphone Saturday afternoon as a frog barely contained in the small hands of 6-year-old Mack Owens took to the field. “Give it some space!”
It’s a raucous, wacky show of small-town quirkiness. A few croakers made a break for it, leaping into crowds of shrieking kids clumped around the edges of the arena. After competing, most of the frogs were returned right back into Horseshoe Lake. They were unharmed, if deeply confused.
After the frog jump concluded, attendees at the 97th annual Woodland Planters Days turned their attention to the rest of the attractions. A carnival complete with rides beckoned at Horseshoe Lake Field, next to a military vehicles show. A book sale up the road was just wrapping up. And then there were the bed races — getting a team together tends to be a pretty impromptu process, and it’s best to work fast.
Mike Golik explained how he and a friend got the idea for the bed races around 25 years ago. Now the owner of the Woodland True Value Hardware, Golik offers three steel “loaner” bed frames for any last-minute teams who want to enter.
“A lot of times, different communities will do it to raise money,” Golik grinned. “We do it for fun.”
The Woodland community has been turning out for Planters Days festivities since 1922, making it the longest-running continuous festival in the state.
For the years leading up to that first celebration, flooding of the Columbia and Lewis rivers had wiped out the crops of Woodland’s farmers. But in 1921, the community built dikes to protect the low-lying farmlands from spring rain, and it worked — the crops survived. The next year the town celebrated with a barbecue, dance and ballgame between Woodland and Kalama, and Planters Days was born.
The event kicked off Thursday evening with a carnival, the coronation of local teen Jade Nosler as Planters Days queen, and a fireworks show. Friday saw a book sale, game of bingo, and live music. A jam-packed Saturday featured some of the biggest draws: the grand parade, the frog jump and the bed races.
Anyone who wants to catch the festivities today can enjoy the final events:
• All day: Car show
• 8 a.m.: Breakfast buffet
• 10 a.m.: Weekend market
• 10 a.m.: Kielbasa and corn on the cob
• 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Hot dogs and hamburgers
• Noon: Talent show
• Noon to 5 p.m.: Carnival
• 2:30 p.m.: Car show awards
• 3 p.m.: Raffle drawing
For a complete schedule of events and more information about the 97th annual Planters Days, visit <URL destination=”https://www.planters-days.com/”>planters-days.com.
Calley Hair: 360-735-4558; email@example.com. Twitter: twitter.com/calleynhair