Roadtrip Destination: 2016 Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee

Roadtrip Destination: 2016 Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee
September 10, 2016 Toni Miltenberger


Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens] immortalized the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee in his short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. I have always been interested in attending the Calaveras County Fair because of the history surrounding it to find out what it was about and to see those famous jumping frogs (expecting it to be similar to the LA County Fair — huge and crowded). To my delight it is a small-town-like atmosphere event — very friendly and comfortable. I was there for three days before I saw anyone — old and young alike (yes, teenagers, too) — on a cellular phone. The only idiot on a cell phone was — ME. I only observed one or two folks on their phone the entire week, but they had the courtesy to stand off alone somewhere and you couldn’t even hear them converse — very refreshing.

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Here’s how a frog’s jump is measured: From a starting point (lily pad) a frog has three hops to establish the measurement. The measurement is taken from the frog’s nose on a straight line back to the pad. Thus the world record was set by “Rosie the Ribiter” in 1986 at 21 ft.5 3/4 inches.

We were invited to join our good friends, Michel and Christi Olson [The Blacksmith and the Storyteller] and their creative group at the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee to be a part of the CONTRAPTIONARIUM [a convergence of craftsmen, contraptionists, catalyzers and ‘creatitions’].  What a special, skilled and talented group! Michel and Christi put on their first independent Contraptionarium Show & Exhibition Display at this venue. They had attended and participated in other Contraptionarium & kinetic events; but they planned, organized and put together their very own interactive area.
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Contraptionarium Area                                        Contraptionarium Group

First I’ll display a few pictures of the CONTRAPTIONARIUM area followed by many highlights of the fair itself.

Christi and Michel regularly perform twelve different shows. They have a fabulous house truck, castle, blacksmith shop, sound stage and museum — all on Florence the Freightliner built by Michel.  Christi is a master storyteller, writer, illustrator and artist. Michel is a skillful and artful blacksmith and a Contraptionist builder.








For more information on their shows,
go to,

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Audiences were encouraged to experience the Contraptionary Quest bewtween performances where they got four cards stamped as they toured around the Contraptionarium area.  When stamped at each station, they could turn them in for a necklace of a dragon tear.

Fabulous Contraptionary Conveyances built by Dave & Vickie Wilson:DSC01540   DSC01582
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Very unique and skillful kinetic items!!!

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Here’s another way they get their exercise beyond the show and “on the road”.

Kinetic Sculptures by Peter Wagner of Whymcycles from Davis, CA (& his family):
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No fee charged to “try” to ride these imaginative, creative and recycled bicycles. Young and older alike really enjoyed this feature . . .

Celestine Gypsy Vardo designed and built by Amber Shelley Harris (yes, she did everything by herself from carpentry to her painting and sculpturing artistry) accompanied by Elton Harris:
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Sir James Gypsy Vardo by Michel Olson:

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Chuck and Toni Miltenberger co-creators of the original Trail Along to Pismo Vintage Trailer Rally.
1950 Westcraft Coronado Pullman restored by Chuck:
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And now —  on to the rest of the fair:
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Special staging area for fair attendees to try out their frog jumping skills . . .

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Super Ridiculous
– funny & talented; performed stage and street

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Main stage for frog jubilee jumping competition     Horse riding show and judging

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Slim & Curly ride their horses…                      Service dogs for wounded veterans…

Animal exhibits:
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Crowds gather for the ever popular Demolition Derby!

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……………………………………………………………..Art exhibits & vendors

Rides and fairway games for the young at heart:
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Dr. Solar’s Sunshine Medicine Show:
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Calaveras County has a history of gold mining. Some of the antique and vintage equipment
displays throughout the fairgrounds:
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And briefly traveling the surrounding countryside between shows:
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There is plenty to do while in Calaveras County such as hiking and climbing; lakes, rivers and streams; caverns; snow sports; horse camping; gold panning adventures; casinos; historical sites; wine tasting; art galleries and events; shops and dining plus.

. . . And the Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee is the third weekend in May located in historic Angel’s Camp where you can enjoy “old fashioned hospitiality”!