This year’s Valley City Frog Jump Festival competition was a true family affair.
Taking home grand champion honors was 10-year-old Ashton Sroka, of Medina, and his frog, Dumber, with a jump of 17 feet.
Twenty-seven years earlier, Ashton’s father, Ron McKinley, won the competition when he was 10 years old in 1987.
Ashton’s sisters, Marissa McKinley and Paetyn McKinley, also received trophies for winning their qualifying flights.
The McKinleys catch their frogs every year the night before the competition at a pond on their family farm.
“We use a spotlight and crawl through the weeds and catch them,” Ashton said.
Ashton named the two frogs he jumped Dumb and Dumber because he couldn’t think of anything better.
Every frog jumper had his or her own technique. Some would slap the ground around their frogs to startle them; others would yell or poke their frogs to get them to start jumping.
Ashton chose to slap the ground during his frog’s 17-foot flight.
Other families came from afar to enter into the competition.
Sue McMahon-Setzer brought her daughters, Jade, 5, and Teagan, 3, all the way from Intercession City, Florida, to compete in the 52nd annual event in Liverpool Township.
McMahon-Setzer, originally from Liverpool Township, said frog jumping has been a large part of her life and wanted her children to experience it.
“We went to the same pond as I did when I was a kid (to catch the frogs),” she said.
Jade, whose frog jumped 7 feet, 8 inches, said she was afraid to go to the Liverpool pond because of alligators. Her mother laughed.
“I really wanted a trophy, but he’s so cute,” Jade said as she pet her frog.
Rod Knight, of the Valley City Chamber of Commerce, said about 650 people entered frogs into the competition. For $3, contestants were grouped with 20 other people in “flights.” Each frog is allowed three jumps from the center of a parachute.
Still, Knight said the annual festival is bigger than the competition.
“People come back to Valley City every year to have family reunions on this weekend,” he said. “It’s about the community and old-fashioned small town feel.”
Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.