Fair board talks future of frog jump

May 23, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Imagine a Calaveras County Fair without jumping frogs.

What if animal rights groups lobby against the jumps until they're deemed illegal? Or what if the state imposes frog jump regulations that are too expensive to abide by?

Calaveras County fair board members discussed these questions and others yesterday when they met at Ironstone Vineyards in Murphys to set long-range goals for the fairgrounds.

Helping them were marketing representative Lea Isetti and Manager Forrest White from the San Joaquin County Fair.

The group also discussed entertainment at the fairgrounds and how to rally community support for the fair.

But the discussion was most passionate when talks turned to frog jumping.

Isetti said recent statements from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals indicate that the frog jumps could be under political fire in coming years. If the jumps aren't banned by the government, she said, restrictions could make the jumps too costly.

"Should we think this is an event we're going to see 10 years from now, or should we think it needs to be reinvented?," Isetti asked.

That suggestion was met with resistance by Calaveras County Fairgrounds Manager Buck King, business assistant Diane Baumann and board member Michael Kriletich.

"We are protected by statute and state law," said Baumann, adding that attendance would suffer without the jumps.

Kriletich said the jumps should continue despite protests from activist groups.

"We're becoming more and more of a society based on fear," Kriletich said. "We're forgetting to do the good things."

Though this year was the last fair under the retiring King's direction, he said the fair board must fight to keep the frog jumps alive "and not be afraid of the politics."

However, board member Stephen Kautz agreed that someday the frog jumps might no longer exist.

"We would be remiss in our long-range planning if we do not put on the shelf ... a strategy in case that day comes," he said. "This threat is not going away."