Fourteen years ago, Triple Tree owner, Wanda Chase and friend Ray Falon discussed an amusing Budweiser commercial. It featured three frogs croaking out the name of the beverage. These green amphibians’ actions sparked an idea. “Why not stage frog races at the lounge?” Chase suggested.
Customers so enjoyed them, the races turned into annual events.
Then Falon built a waist-high, twelve-foot long track, divided lengthwise down the center. He placed a slightly-raised wooden lily-pad on each side of the divider to denote the starting point. A white “finish line” at the far end tacitly beckoned a potential winner in each phase of competition.
Eventually, the frog racing rules Chase’s son-in-law, Monte Martin applied, more nearly mimicked those of pool games than of speed contests. “They involve double-eliminations, meaning everyone who enters gets at least two chances to win,” he said.
“If your frog keeps winning, you keep playing,” noted Monte’s wife, Dee.
On May 16, Sams Valley’s popular restaurant/lounge sponsored its greatest crowd-pleaser. “This gets bigger every year,” Monte Martin observed. “In 2008 we had thirty-two entrants; this time we enrolled forty.”
Now the frog races draw even more crowds than New Year’s Eve does , Wanda Chase said. Usually, several spectators drive down here from Portland. For 2009’s races, however, Jason Brown–who traveled the farthest distance–arrived from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
For May 16th’s games, Dee and Monte Martin had collected thirty of the four-legged leapers–by permission–in local backyard ponds. All competitors could opt to use the Triple Tree’s Frogs, or bring their own. “Entrants paid $5 to play, and another two-dollars for two uses of Triple Tree’s Frogs,” explained Dee Martin. “Participants who furnished frogs paid just the $5 fee.”
Eagle Point cosmetologist Melissa Jennings, and fisheries biologist Heather Lundgren, made several attempts in their frog quest. According to Lundgren, they went to Denman Pond twice, and Expo’s Pond once, with no success. “We finally caught four of them at the Illinois River.”
“We didn’t want to come empty-handed,” Jennings said at the signing-in process.
All the money from entry fees went to fund the top three victories. Numerous other prizes lined the counters in the lounge. Sandra Sharp hand-made a trio of trophies. Beverage distributors donated stacks of t-shirts, hats, and logo-emblazoned drinking glasses for use as awards.
At one p.m., Monte Martin took the mic to call out names of entrants. They’d select frogs, and stand at the starting point. When Martin yelled, “Go,” each placed a frog on a lily-pad. From that point, racers had to keep hands off the animals. They or frantic teammates could tap the sides and floors of the race-track, to encourage Froggy toward the finish line ahead of neighboring opponents. After four hours of these hectic paces, Steve Hanlin garnered a third place finish. Second spot went to Carolyn Waterman. The new champs: Shane and Ron Webster from Pleasant Hill, (near Eugene,) teamed with Sams Valley’s own Doug Daniken.
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent