Nobody is surewhether the first Olive Day was in 1971 or 1972, but, one thing is certain, frog-jumping contests have been part of it from the beginning. Yet glamorous as it may be, the frog jump isn’t the only reason to attend Olive Day. Town Supervisor Jim Sofranko said, “Olive Day is always a great day for neighbors to get together to celebrate the Town of Olive and it is a celebration of living in the greatest town in the world.” Almost 60 vendors of food, crafts, causes, products, and services lined the midways at Davis Park in West Shokan, attracting the attention of locals and visitors. Fire trucks, classic cars, two bands, and other attractions rounded out the day on Saturday, September 10.
On that morning,frog jumping was the main attraction. Kids started lining up by 9:30 a.m. for the 10 a.m. jump. Almost 40 of them (kids, not frogs) eventually signed in carrying everything from cardboard boxes to sophisticatedpet-store cages. Frogs and children large and small gave their names and 50 cents to the registrar and waited—kids shuffling, frogs hopping.
The announcer explained the Department of Environmental Conservation rules. DEC became involved years back when an Olive council member received a phone call from an irate citizenwho believed that frogs were being abused. The agency generated a Frog Permit for the Town of Olive. Jump rules requireachild andfrog (sometimes with parent in tow) to enter a large circle. At the center, froggy is released andhas30 seconds to hop its way to glory. There are two categories in which a frog/kid can win: who gets out of the circle fastest and who hops the most within the time limit. The child may encourage the frog by clapping, blowing, and tapping the asphalt. Jumping next to your amphibianis not allowed as the result could be grossly unfortunate.
Three ribbons aregiven in each of the two categories. When the jumps had landed, the best scorers were: Emilio’s frog, Jumpy, with35 hops in 30 seconds for first place in the greatest number of jumps, and Orion’s frog, New Too,for first place in getting out of the circle fasted—just three seconds. Also placing were Sophia’s Mimi, Leo’s Dioxys, Sam’s Fast,and Jessica’s Hopper. When the jump is over, all frogs must be released in suitable habitats at or near the original point of capture.
At the booth for the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program, people gathered around a floodplain model that demonstrated how flooding occurs within the watershed. Alsoon display wasa LEGO model home. Heidi Emrichexplained the different components of it which provided multiple ways to keep floodwater out of a house.Similar to a child’s building-block toy, it was a 3-D learning tool for adults.
A fifth-grade schoolteacher was selling pretty handmade jewelry. It was her first time at Olive Day. She began making jewelry for herself as an alternative to expensive retail items. Her friends admired what she wore and requested some to buy for themselves. A business evolved and she now sells her wares to the public.
Food and beverage vendors were abundant. I spoke with David, a satisfied customer, who was in line for a refill of hand-squeezed lemonade. He had just finished eating a pulled-pork sandwich which he purchased after also considering a roast beef sandwich or a hamburger.
Every year the town issues an Olive Day t-shirt. A contest is held to determine theyear’s design. It mustfeatureone or more frogsand a local event that is in the future. On this year’s shirt, frogs are busy building a new firehouse for Olive Fire Department’s Company 5 in Boiceville.As a fundraiser for the building of thatfirehouse, people can participate in a buy-a-brick drive. The bricks will be used as pavers at the facility.
In 2023, Olive Day will celebrate the town’s bicentennial with extended hours, increased daytime activities, and fireworks closing the festivities.