First off-season edition of Frog Follies festival brings much-needed community spirit to St-Pierre-Jolys

A Manitoba village decided to put a frosty spin on its annual late-summer community event in an effort to boost community spirits after a long winter and an even longer pandemic.

St-Pierre-Jolys normally hosts its Frog Follies festival every September, but this year the village had a bit of extra money to spend, so the municipality put on another event on Saturday.

It’s the first of its kind, according to Justin Kehler, the deputy mayor of the village.

“The community spirit has really been hampered over the last couple of years with COVID, and to see everybody out and smiling and playing and enjoying it, it’s been too long. It really has been,” he said.

“People need interaction, both emotionally, physically, everything, so this is good for everybody.”

Aurise McFarlane showed off her extensive frog collection at the Frog Follies festival in St-Pierre Jolys on Saturday. The festival, which is normally held in September, was held again in March to brighten community spririts. (SRC)

The Frog Follies festival — a more than 50-year feature in the community — normally features a kids tent, a slo-pitch tournament, a parade, fireworks and, of course, the frog jumping race.

Participants release their frog, and organizers measure the distance from the starting point to the landing point of the frog’s first three hops. The frog that jumps the furthest wins.

While the frog jumping event will return for the summer festival, Saturday’s event had a cold-weather spin, with a boot hockey tournament, dog sled rides and a host of indoor activities.

Brothers Elijah and Noah Desharnais helped volunteer at the festival.

Noah, 12, says he’s lived in the village all his life, so he’s attended Frog Follies every year.

“I was asked if I would like to volunteer, and I said, sure, I would love to help out for my town,” he said.

Fourteen-year-old Elijah volunteered with his army cadets troupe, but was glad to offer his services.

“Just because it brings back memories, I guess, because I’ve been coming to this event for a long time,” he said.

Any money raised will go toward the next Frog Follies’ fireworks show, and to help improve the local arena.

“It’s an old building and and it needs some love. And and with the community support, we’ll get there and we’ll get her back up to shape,” Kehler said.