GREENE - Chad Hurlbert and Jimmy Finch stood back, encouraging Emily Henderson of Bristol to blow on the back of the head of the frog sitting in front of her.
Henderson blew and slapped the ground.
Still the frog sat frozen for a few moments.
Floyd “Tim” Finch encourages both Jensen Gill of Cortland and her frog during a moment when the frog has decided it did not want to jump during the distance contest. Photo by Raymond L. Smith
Then suddenly it leaped: once, twice, three times.
Enough for a measurement.
It was an afternoon of both elation and disappointment for the children who cooed, encouraged and demanded the hundreds of amphibians they just met especially for the frog-jumping contest.
The annual Greene Old Home Day celebration featured water battles, blind auctions, a parade, a pie-baking contest and, of course, the frog-jumping contest.
"We have been doing the Frog Jumping Contest at Greene Old Home Day since 1975 when Michael Bright and Ron Roberts did the first one," said Floyd "Tim" Finch, whose family has been involved for about 27 years.
The Finch brothers, Mark, Shane, Bill and Floyd, as well as their wives, children, a local Boy Scout troop and anyone else they are able to convince go into a Mosquito Lake feeder creek near the Maplewood Elementary School to capture the frogs for the contest.
"We have people who have moved away come back home on Old Home Day weekends, so they can go out to capture the frogs we need for the contest," Floyd Finch said. "On Friday, we had nine people go out at about 10 p.m. and they came back in about 2 a.m. Saturday. They brought back more than 300 frogs."
Although they did not need to capture more, a second group went out Saturday, because they had traveled so far to participate.
Area residents know the frog hunters will be traveling behind their home on the weekend before Labor Day.
"You can hear the dogs barking as people travel through the waters," Floyd Finch said. "Over the years, the marshes have grown so thick there are only a few places to leave."
Floyd "Tim" Finch, a big man with a flowing white beard wearing a red Ohio State University scarf, a green shirt, suspenders and short pants, the patriarch of the family, says the family likely will continue leading the frog jump as long as young people are willing to go out to capture the frogs on the Friday before the annual Labor Day event.
"I haven't had to go in the water for 10 years," Floyd said.
The contest consists of a distance jump and a grudge match in which the frogs compete with one another in jumping out of the center circle of the mat the fastest.
Finch said the annual Old Home Day brings people of different generations together.
"People wait all year for this," he said. "Kids play together, parents enjoy family moments and grandparents are able to get together."
Amanda Monolakis of Cortland has been bringing her children to the annual even for eight years, as her parents brought her when she was growing up.
"This is something we've always done," she said. "It is a community event that we enjoy. Everyone is able to have a good time and it is safe."
Joe Woods of Bristolville has been participating in the annual event as a leader with Troop 577. The Boy Scout troop uses it as a fundraiser.
"You are made to feel like part of the community," said Woods.