Frog Leg Festival kicks off with bull riding, chilly temps

FELLSMERE — A few thousand people turned out to the opening night of the annual 4-day Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival, taking in the rides of the midway, the tastes of the quintessential frog legs and gator tail, and the music of the evening.

Organizer Sharon Anderson expressed concern that the turnout Thursday night wasn’t as strong as she thought it should have been. The cooler than expected temps and cloudy skies might have played a role.

By 6 p.m., the temperature had dropped to 66 degrees. The weather Friday is expected to be in the upper 60s and warm up to the high 70s by Sunday. Clouds are expected to hang around and scattered showers are possible, according to

The weather, didn’t keep Maryland residents Linda and Larry Williams away.

“This is a first,” Linda Williams said of attending the Frog Leg Festival. They recently bought a home in Village Green, in Vero Beach, where they plan to stay during the cold winter months.

Larry Williams said he had to come out to the festival to try the frog legs.

“They were very good,” he said, his wife adding that he is a frog leg enthusiast.

“He may come back every day,” Linda said of her husband’s desire to have more frog legs.

Organizers expect to serve more than 7,000 frog leg and gator tail dinners during the event.

For those who have had their fill of frog legs and gator tails or for those who aren’t so daring, there are numerous options in the Food Alley. Such options include turkey legs, chicken on a stick and pizza, to name a few.

Those with a sweet tooth can sample funnel cakes, ice cream, and deep fried candy bars, Oreos and peanut butter and jelly.

One of the first events of the night was a bull riding demonstration using Bodacious the (mechanical) Bull from LaPorte Farms. Professional rider Jimmy Lathero took a spin on Bodacious and was ultimately tossed as the operator cranked the bull’s speed up. The 24-year-old will be riding in the Bull Frog Rodeo Saturday, which begins at 2 p.m.

Hilde Zenil, of Port St. Lucie, was among those who took part in the demonstration and dared to face the mechanical bull. Moments before starting her ride, she kicked off her ballet flats and mounted the bull barefooted.

All smiles, she bounded off the bull at the end of her ride.

“It’s nice,” she said of the festival. “I like it.”

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