Each year in January, the population of tiny Fellsmere, Florida swells from 5,300 to well over 80,000. People come from all over to experience one of the most unusual festivals in the nation – the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival.
Former mayor Susan Adams grew up exploring and playing in the marshes where the frogs are caught and says the festival is a great way to celebrate the town’s rural character.
The idea for the festival started with Susan’s mother and a small group of residents who were looking for a way to raise funds for the town’s recreation needs. Fellsmere had a lot of kids, but not much for them to do in their free time.
“They started thinking, what does Fellsmere have that makes us unique? What would bring people here?” Susan says that’s when the lightbulb went off. “Oh, we have frog legs. That’s unique. I bet people would travel to a frog leg festival, at least enough to raise some money to buy some equipment for the softball teams and that type of thing.”
Organizers called on local froggers to help out with the first festival in 1990. Within two hours, all the frog legs were gone.
“They had a record crowd beyond their imagination of what they thought would show up for a frog leg festival. They called everybody in town to let them know we were out of frog legs. They sent everybody out to the marsh to get more frogs. The next morning they had a couple hundred pounds.”
Since those humble beginnings, the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival has grown into a nationally-recognized event. The same festival that ran out of frog legs in its first year now holds two Guinness Book of World Records for The Most Frog Legs served in the course of one business day and the Largest Frog Leg Festival in the world.
This year’s Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival runs January 21-January 24 and will feature live entertainment, arts & crafts, midway rides, a zipline course, plenty of fried foods, and the most frog legs you’ll see anywhere else on earth.