The town of Springfield will celebrate its 53rd Annual Governor's Frog Jump and International Egg Strike Thursday through Saturday, April 18-20, offering up yet another smorgasbord of food, fun and entertainment for residents of Orangeburg County and beyond.
The festival actually began in Columbia in 1966, when the governor of California asked the governor of South Carolina to send a frog to California to compete in the famous Calaveras County Frog Jump.
In 1968, a Springfield frog named "Buckwheat" won the contest in Columbia, and then-Gov. Robert McNair asked Springfield officials if the town wanted to sponsor the festival.
Pat Williams, the son of late local matriarch Lila Williams who also worked for the Office of the Governor, was responsible for bringing it to his hometown.
During a 2006 interview, Mrs. Williams said, "Pat called a meeting at the old Springfield Community Center and challenged the townspeople and Mayor O.K. Furtick to put on the Frog Jump Festival. When they were asked if they wanted it to be held in Springfield, the crowd answered with a rousing cheer."
The General Assembly then took a vote and designated Springfield as the official home of the Governor's Frog Jump.
"It continued to grow, and activities expanded. The Frog Jump parade attracted many state politicians who were proud to ride in it, especially in an election year," said Mrs. Williams, who noted that the late Sen. Strom Thurmond was a frequent visitor and even entered a frog in the competition on occasion.
During the festival's second year, the International Egg Strike competition was added, with egg striking having been a tradition ever since the Irish settlers came to Springfield.
Springfield Mayor Ed Furtick said the festival is a "big event" for the town.
"And since it's on Easter weekend, we have a lot of people that come back home to see their parents. It's a good reunion of former people that lived here. And this year being in April, we think it'll be one of our bigger crowds," Furtick said.
"When Easter moves and it's sometimes in March, we have a tougher time with the weather. But it's in late April, so it should be a beautiful weekend," he said.
Evening bingo will be held on Thursday, April 18, with a carnival and sock hop among the featured activities on Friday, April 19.
"And then, of course, Saturday there will be a carnival. We'll have a parade that starts at 11 a.m. Actually, the grand marshals are from 'Live PD.' We're gonna have some of the officers on the show from Richland County be our grand marshals," Furtick said.
Springfield native Ryan Trotti, who recently won a statewide country music award, will also return to put on a concert at the festival on Saturday, when the Frog Jump and Egg Strike will also take place earlier that day.
"And we have an Easter egg hunt that goes on for the children. Two of the local churches get together and put that on. And that's a lot of fun. And we'll have some cloggers that will be doing some entertaining," Furtick said.
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