Eighteen-year-old Seth Filkins spent his hard-earned money and a full day on a plane to get back to his home county and take part in its most cherished tradition.
Filkins moved from Calaveras County to East Texas roughly three years ago. At first, he was excited to get out of the place in which he was born and raised, but now he misses it.
“Calaveras County runs through my blood,” Filkins said. “(I miss) my family, my friends, being able to drive dirt roads -- just home.”
One of the things Filkins missed most was the county fair, so when the opportunity arose to volunteer at the Frog Jump, the former Calaveras High School student leapt to the challenge.
This fair, one may have seen him on the Fun Jump stage, dunking bullfrogs in warm water and handing them off to participants.
“Seeing all the little kids’ faces, all the joy -- I enjoy seeing little kids be happy,” Filkins said. “I remember, growing up, just walking around the fair. You don’t realize how much fun you could have for four days once a year.”
Though he knows most people would rather save up for a more conventional vacation than a small-town county fair, Filkins believes his money was well-spent. And, he adds, the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee isn’t your average fair.
“You see people coming from all over the world,” Filkins said. “I’ve seen people from Russia, Japan, all over the country. … It’s really interesting how our little county fair could bring in so much interest from all over the world. … I’ve never heard of any other fair jumping frogs.”
For Filkins, his first time volunteering at the fair has been a chance to help preserve the unique character of the county he loves.
“We’re keeping history alive,” Filkins said. “We’re not afraid to show how redneck or blue collar or whatever you want to call us -- we’re not afraid to show it. This is the way of life that we live. .. Keeping that alive with the history, but also not being afraid to show the world what we really are. It’s special.”