FELLSMERE — The City of Fellsmere will be hopping with Frog Leg Festival visitors for the next four days, during which an estimated 80,000 people are expected to attend.
On the menu will be more than 6,000 pounds of frog legs and gator tails that will be whipped up into an estimated 7,000 meals.
“Just close your eyes,” said Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Beth Mitchell, adding the frog legs taste like chicken with a slightly fishy tinge. Visitors can expect large crowds, carnival rides and basket after basket of frog legs and gator tail to eat. The festivities get underway Thursday at 4 p.m. and runs through Sunday.
Mitchell said it’s hard to quantify the economic impact the festival has on the region. She figures there will be a thousand people in town who wouldn’t have normally been there, which could generate more funds through bed tax, gas and sales tax and other expenses visitors accrue.
“All our businesses see a spike,” Mitchell said of the area shops that will see an increase in foot traffic and sales over the four-day event.
Along with the fare, the fair will boast 100 crafters, live entertainment, and even friendly competitions of hog calling, hay bale tossing, and pie eating.
Those contests, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, were added to the festival this year as a way to invoke good ol’ fashioned outings, according to entertainment committee leader Debbi Allison.
The Hog Calling Contest will be like a yodeling competition. However, there won’t actually be any hogs involved, due to liability concerns.
The Hay Bale Toss was inspired by Allison’s daily chores, which consists of feeding the horses she and her husband have rescued.
The Pie Eating Contest will be decided by the person who eats their one pie first – instead of being decided by how many pies contestants can eat.
Also new is entertainment from the Mariachi Voces de America, which Sammons said should delight the crowd.
The Frog Leg Fest serves as a community fund-raiser to benefit recreation opportunities within the city for children. To date, the festival has collected and gifted back to the community $491,729, according to Sammons.
Organizers expect this year’s event to push the donation level over the $500,000 mark.
The festival is free to attend, though food, rides and items at vendors’ booths will have a cost.
Thursday, festivalgoers can purchase $15 armbands to ride the rides at the midway. The remaining nights, riders can purchase individual tickets. There is free parking in Downtown Fellsmere and at MESA Park, with free shuttle service to the festival.
There will also be food tickets that visitors can purchase at ticket booths to redeem. ATMs will be onsite.
The Frog Leg Festival got its start in 1990 and its inaugural event dished out 400 dinners before the frog legs ran out.