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article image'Rope, Ride and Ribbit' parade, race and fair

By Gar Swaffar     May 8, 2012 in Lifestyle
The 'Rope' is the Mother Lode RoundUp and parade, the "Ride" is the Amgen Tour of California, and the "Ribbit" is the Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee. All happening in May, within reach of a short drive and the fun is going to start soon.
“Rope, Ride and Ribbit” is a trifecta of events coming up in the California Mother Lode. The ‘Rope” is the Mother Lode Round Up and Mother's Day Parade with the Mother's Day Parade on Saturday, May 12th and the Round Up events on Sunday May 13th. The parade is one of the largest in California with several hundred entries every year making their way through downtown Sonora, Ca. For the parade, the main street, which is also Highway 49, is closed for at least two or three hours.
On Sunday, all of the usual rodeo events take place along with more cotton candy and “fair food” than would be healthy for any single small third world nation to consume in a day.
The next item on the agenda is new for this year, and it is one which Sonora has worked at getting for several years. The Fourth Stage of the Amgen Tour of California will begin in Sonora, Ca. on May 16th and end in Clovis. The total fourth stage length will be 130 miles, and is the longest stage of the 2012 bicycle race.
Having driven nearly all of the course at one time or another, I can only say “better them than me.” While the course goes through both Mariposa and Oakhurst where the racers will be ‘sprinting’, a portion of the course will skirt along Yosemite Nat’l park and the scenery right now is as nice as it has been in several years during the late spring.
The final leg of the trifecta is the famous Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee to be held May 17th – May 20th. Those who have enjoyed the stories of Mark Twain, A.K.A. Sam Clemens, will remember the story of “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” The Jumping Frog Jubilee is held every year at Frog Town, as the fair grounds are called.
The festivities have begun already, both around the state and perhaps even in far corners of the country. Outside of Calaveras County some cities have local frog jumps with the winners moving on to the "Big Time" in Angels Camp. There are frog jumpers who travel from Japan, Washington D.C. and Europe on occasion to take their best shot at gaining the title of winner of the “International Frog Jump Grand Finals.” If the world record is broken, currently held by the 1986 winner, “Rosie the Ribbeter” with a jump of 21 feet 5 and ¾ inches, the prize is $5,000.
Several years ago, one gentleman brought Giant African Bullfrogs to displace the lowly California bullfrogs most often used. The gargantuan four pound, African bullfrogs turned in a disappointing two foot jump.
Rosie by the way came from the former Ranch Seco nuclear plant cooling ponds, near Sacramento, Ca.
Each year’s winner gets a brass frog plaque in the sidewalk in downtown Angel’s Camp, Ca. Along with the frog jump are all of the county fair staples of a rodeo, animal judging, pie and cake judging and again more "Fair Food" than is healthy, plus my personal favorite, the Demolition Derby with old clunker cars packing souped up engines and a driver with a desire to mash the rest of cars in the muddy arena.
All in all May, 2012 is going to be a busy month for those who enjoy Parades, County Fairs, and the premiere Tour de France style bicycle race in the United States.
More about Calaveras County, frog jump, Calaveras, AMGEN Tour, lode parade
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