I’d been wanting to go for the past few years, to pick up a gift for my mother, who collects frog knick-knacks and other frog-related bric-a-brac, but the scheduling just never seemed to work out.
This year, with the festival postponed due to Hurricane Gustav, it fit perfectly.
Besides, after reading about the frog racing and jumping competitions, I decided this was something that had to be experienced to be believed.
So Sunday morning found us in Rayne at the frog festival, waiting in line to rent a frog from the Rayne Jaycees.
All frogs had to be named; my wife suggested we name ours D.C. in honor of my mom, Denise Comeau, since she was such a frog fan.
My wife may have been enthusiastic about naming our frog, but that didn’t mean she wanted to touch him. As far as actually handling and racing our frog, I was on my own.
When I went to pick out our frog, I was surprised by how big (and slimy) the rental frogs turned out to be, so maybe I can’t blame her.
For the racing competition, four competitors at a time hold their frogs in a starting circle inside of a larger ring; the first to jump beyond the bounds of the outer ring advanced to the next round.
My frog started a couple seconds too late (I think I woke him up), so we didn’t advance to the semi-final round.
Since the first D.C. didn’t do so well, I decided to exchange my rental frog for another in the jumping competition.
I saw one bullfrog jumping around the tank. He seems pretty active, I thought to myself. I bet he’ll do pretty well. So I christened him D.C. II.
When our turn came, I put D.C. II in the starting circle and waited for him to jump.
Nothing. I waited. I slapped the floor next to him. But D.C. II sat there like a bump on a log.
About a dozen people began helpfully shouting out suggestions. Someone suggested speaking in French, and I figured, it couldn’t hurt.
“Vouz allez,” I said to my frog. “Vouz allez!”
Somebody else said something about saying please, so soon I was pleading with my frog, “Vouz allez, s’il vous plait.”
“You have to massage his legs,” someone else shouted.
No way, I thought, am I going to give a frog a leg massage. But I felt the pressure of a long line waiting behind me to jump their frogs and an anxious crowd.
So I gently prodded my frog. No go. This frog was refusing to move.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity (but was probably only a few seconds), I tried tickling my frog’s legs.
Maybe D.C. II thought I was about to fry them, because that woke him up. One, two, three wide jumps.
Then he kept going. Fortunately there were experienced ‘frog wranglers’ around the arena, or D.C. II would have probably not stopped for anything.
Despite D.C. II’s desperate jumps, he wasn’t in the top three, although I believe he was close.
Second place went to a veteran frog jumper whose frog was named Batter Me Up!, so maybe the threat helped.
I may not have brought home any frog trophies, but at least I did bring home some frog stories.
Still, I would have liked a trophy.