Driving through downtown Angels Camp, most would not suspect that this former Gold Rush town has a rich and historic tradition. The town bears evidence of its past love affair with gold mining in the architecture of the buildings and the historic markers along Highway 49.
The area is most well-known for its rich mineral deposits, namely gold, which attracted thousands of prospectors hoping to “strike it rich” during the famous California Gold Rush. What many people do not know is that the area has another claim to fame: The Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee. The fair gets its roots from the infamous Samuel L. Clemens story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Clemens, better known by his alias “Mark Twain”, was a frequent visitor to the area. He penned the short story in 1865 after allegedly overhearing two men place wagers involving a frog by the name of Dan’l Webster who could “outjump any frog in Calaveras County” (Clemens). The story was an instant success and is credited with launching Twain’s career, but has another significance as well. The story inspired the now world-famous Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee, which is held every 3rd week in May in Angels Camp, California. The fair’s history can be dated back as far as the late 1800’s, but the first official fair was held by the Angels Camp Boosters Club in honor of the paving of Main Street in 1928. Since then, the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee have been a coveted and celebrated event cherished by residents and visitors alike.
This year the fair will host its 86th annual celebration, one of California’s longest running events. Carnival rides, games, food, and live entertainment are just some of the activities visitors can expect to enjoy during the 4-day Jumping Frog Jubilee. The demolition derby is a crowd favorite, as is, of course, the frog jumping contest. The current world record for the farthest jump was established in 1986 at an impressive 21 feet, 5 and 3/4 inches. The Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee is a tradition emerged in the area’s rich heritage and is a sight to behold. With an old fair sort of feel, visitors can enjoy the simple pleasures of a place where community, history, and tradition are of the utmost importance. The Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee combines timeless tradition and history with modern activities to produce an unforgettable experience to anyone visiting Angels Camp.
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The town itself has much more to offer than just the county fair and the Frog Jump. It is a unique place in a picturesque setting. Located just a couple of hours from the bay area in the rolling foothills of the Sierra, Angels Camp offers city dwellers a perfect escape. At 2,000 feet, it is high enough in the hills to offer relief from the extreme temperatures of the valley but low enough to avoid the heavy snowfall that is typical in the higher elevations. It combines the feel of small-town charm with modern conveniences like fast food, ample restaurants, a golf course, and a movie theater. For anyone wanting to escape the hustle-and-bustle of the city but not wanting to completely commit to the mountains, Angels Camp provides the perfect balance. Old Victorian homes, as well as modern and well-maintained homes and beautiful lots, are available in the area. Recreational activities such as boating at New Melones Lake are only minutes away from downtown Angels Camp. Skiing, hiking trails, Big Trees State Park, and Bear Valley Ski Resort are a short drive up the mountain. Angels Camp is a great place to escape from the bustling city without sacrificing convenience.
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