History of the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival

historical aerialIn 1990 several members of the City of Fellsmere recreation committee were very concerned that there was no funding source available for the recreational needs of the children of Fellsmere. The Frog Leg Festival was a result of that concern.

The first festival was a brain child of a small group of local residents in Fellsmere who guessed that frog legs might just be unique enough to entice folks to the city, so they made plans to sell frog leg dinners. The first year, local frog giggers caught 400 lbs of frogs in the marshes surrounding Fellsmere. The group thought this would be enough for the entire festival. Some of the committee, not realizing the draw of this event and figuring only a small number of people would attend, helped set up the dinner operations and then went off to the movies, leaving a few helpers to serve up the entrée.

They couldn't imagine how successful the event would prove to be. Crowds of people lined up to buy dinners on the first night, throwing the volunteers into a panic! Several hours and 400 hundred dinners later, frog legs were sold out! The organizers rounded up as many volunteers as they could and had them out the next morning knocking on doors to buy frog legs from anyone in the community who had them. If there was an airboat in the yard, the volunteers knocked on the door buying frogs and sending the guys out gigging! They sold out every night of that first festival and the group realized they might be on to something.

The costs of the first couple of festivals was underwritten by a private citizen who hoped the festival would grow and it sure has! Cooking outside was fine for four hundred dinners, but as more people showed up, year after year, the Festival organizers realized they would have to improve the cooking and serving arrangements, and moved the entire operation into the basement of the Old Fellsmere School. With the help of the Frog Leg Festival, the City of Fellsmere was able to restore the Old School to its former glory and it is now utilized not only as the home of the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival but also as City Administrative offices, the Boys & Girls Club and community space.

Fellsmere has been proclaimed Frog Leg Capital of the World and The Frog Leg Festival holds 2 Guinness Book World Records for The Most Frog Legs served in the course of one business day and the Largest Frog Leg Festival in the world! With over 80,000 attendees serving over 7,000 pounds of frog legs and 2,000 pounds of gator, the Frog Leg Festival has come a long way from its humble roots of 400 dinners!

The Frog Leg Festival could not succeed without the tireless dedication of its wonderful volunteers and volunteer groups. With this type of commitment the Fellsmere Frog Leg Festival will continue to raise funds for the recreational needs of the children of Fellsmere for many years to come.