Welcome to the 495th Annual Frog Festival!
Frog Fest Vendors
Every year, the Frog Fest committee comes up with a new design to represent the festival. This year, it's an image of a frog band in three rows of four frogs, nine frogs, and five frogs. Each town comes up with their own designs, and since Frog Fest falls on the same day everywhere, it's a challenge to try and collect as many prints as possible. Between the local committee and the Nazara Frog Racing League, there's plenty of official merchandise to get from prints, sashes, frog hats, and even frog pins. My grandad has a box of frog pins that goes back for fifty years!
Anything you can imagine gets frog themed. Candy frogs, rice in frog shaped bowls, rice shaped into frogs, bread shaped like frogs, and the real specialty of the day is squish bubble tea. It looks just like a bunch of frog eggs in the swamp and even comes with edible grass! There's also a candied frog food vendor which is a bowl of midge flies dipped in honey and fried. They're sweet and crunchy, and perfect for snacking on.
For anyone who wasn't able to catch a frog in time for the start of racing season, there are people who catch too many frogs and rent them out. They come named and registered, and they usually only cost a few coppers for the season. They can only be entered in local races, but the more serious racers in the League catch their own frogs anyways.
Arts & Crafts
Near the center of town, there are various booths set up where you can make your own frog art. You can paint reed frogs and make a matching flag in your racing colors and design. There's also frog sand art with bog frog slime to stick it to the page. There's a station where you can glue colorful buttons, beads, and fabric to make a frog or anything that inspires you. Frog noodle art is a town favorite, and you can eat the noodles after. The noodles are green and very bendy. And of course, you can't possibly skip making a ribbit drum. It's a wooden frog and you cut the notches into the back and it comes with a little stick that it holds in its mouth. You get to paint the frog, and when you scrape the stick over the frog's back, it ribbits!
In most towns, there's a whole section of the festival grounds dedicated to artists. There's metal frog ornaments, frog paintings, frog sculptures, prints, and there's even someone who turns old type metal letters into frogs! The best part is that they're still compatible with printing presses and other type metal letters. Some artists do commissions on the spot where you can get a sketch or painting of your frog in racing colors. Woven art is also very popular with banners in racing colors and even mats woven to look like frogs.
Local musicians are invited to play at the festival, and in large towns, the musicians guild always puts on a fun concert by their students with everyone dressed up as frogs. The music isn't all frog themed, but some artists compose a frog song to play. The stage is right next to the water near where the parade is, so it's a nice place to sit and listen to music while eating before the parade starts. There's also a few tables to buy music beans with songs on it, but that's usually only the more well known groups and musicians guilds.
Finally! It's time for the frog parade! All the frogs are painted in their racing colors (they all look the same otherwise), and the real highlight is getting to see all the floats. The floats are made on reed rafts, and the entire riverbank is packed with people who come out to watch. It's hard to find a good spot if you don't get there early. There's an announcer who reads off the names of all the frogs as they float down the river with their handler.
There is a competitive side to the frog parade, and that's the float competition. The exact categories differ from town to town, and the judges are a mix of kids and the festival organizers. Each year is also given a theme challenge. This year, it was music. So some floats are designed with that in mind to try and win "Best Music Float". The other categories are "Best Themed Float" for having the frog names, handler costume, and float design all fit a theme, "Best Summer Float" for the float that looks the most summery, "Best Bog Float" for the float that looks the most froggy, and "Judges Choice Float" for whichever float the judges like the best. No one can win more than one category. Exactly who the judges are varies from year to year, and it's a closely kept secret for the day. Winners get a ribbon and a ticket to get a free meal to their favorite food booth.
One of the best the parts of frog racing is frog painting. Don't worry, the paints don't harm the frogs, and they wash off after a few cycles. Everyone gets really creative with their colors and designs, and it's almost the only way to tell frogs apart once they're racing. The paints are available year round, but during frog fest, it's common to see local paint producers who only make batches for frog fest. You can get some really unique colors to make your frog stand out even more.
First Frog Open
To finish off the day, there's the First Frog Open, the second most important race of the season (the most important is obviously the NFL Championship)! All the racing frogs are lined up in waves and off they go! Most races only last a couple minutes, so it doesn't take too long. The local racers go first and then the regional racers. It's a grand event with everyone cheering and waving flags to get their frog to jump to victory.