Townville’s Olde Home Days cancellation doesn’t kill a tradition

You may not think of rural Centerville, Pennsylvania as the home of hundreds of athletes of incredible prowess. But Saturday, a demonstration on Yochum Road made a case for the world to take notice. The glistening muscular physiques of your average and, in some cases, not so average pond jumping frogs were showing off their vigor. 

Prior the main event, potential high bidders moved between buckets to inspect the athletes and determine which they would pick to take the year’s top prizes.

It is a scene that has played out for many years in this corner of Crawford County. 

Generations of Snyders, Mollis, Gallaghers and the like have gathered every summer for decades on the field out behind Maplewood Elementary School for Townville’s version of the Kentucky Derby. 

While COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the town’s Olde Home Days and, by default the annual frog jumping contest, nine-year-old Gracie Snyder decided it was time to wade into the pond of community activism with a net to save a long-sanding tradition.

Gracie and her parents hopped up to host the event at their homestead affectionately called “Snyderville,” a farm spread of buildings, fields and the most important feature, a pond. Gracie’s friends also leaped in to help.

On Saturday, a couple dozen amphibian sports enthusiasts ascended into the arena. Some are grandparents who remember being tadpoles themselves carrying their frog into the center of the ring for what they hoped would be three epic leaps.

“I grew up doing this,” said Tabitha Gallagher Reagle, who brought her daughter to the “Snyderville” event. She was quite adept at corralling frogs trying to escape, perhaps from her 30 years of competing. And she was eager to still compete in the adult division. She didn’t get a strong frog though, only managing a 4’6” total, almost four feet shy of the winning bounce total. Her daughter faired better, taking second place in the “Littles” division.

One thing has never changed throughout the years - families have fun and mayhem always ensues when the athletes seem too eager to get started and leap out of the bucket. A frenzy of kids leads to adults falling all over the place as they try to round up the unruly contestants. During this year’s competition, one extremely talented athlete managed to leap his way back into the safety of the pond. Had he stayed, he would’ve likely taken first place.

Man could that frog jump.

Like all major sport contests, the day was topped with an Olympic-style podium ceremony where the top three contestants received their ‘medals.’

Renee Snyder, Gracie’s mom, said the event accepted donations and frog rentals were offered to raise money for the Townville Volunteer Fire Department, which lost an important fundraising event with the cancellation of the weekend festival and parade. Thanks to Gracie and her frog loving friends, the fire department revenue got a $304.75 bounce on Saturday.

Now that’s something to jump up and down about.

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