Jump into the Frog Hop festival

Dedication, inaugural festival is Aug. 2
By Rachel Robles, Lifestyles editor | Jul 29, 2014
Photo by: Rachel Robles 'CHASING TADPOLES' — Bill Eleazer's statue, 'Chasing Tadpoles,' was recently installed in Frog Level at the corner of Commerce and Depot streets.

What started off as the dedication of a new public art piece, “Chasing Tadpoles,” located on the corner of Commerce and Depot streets, has turned into a full-fledged street festival. The Frog Hop festival will take place from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, in Frog Level to celebrate the dedication of the statue. The festival is being sponsored by the Historic Frog Level Merchants Association, the Downtown Waynesville Association, the Waynesville Public Art Commission and the town of Waynesville.

And everyone hopes it will become an annual event.

“We wanted to give Frog Level a fall festival,” said Clark Williams, owner of Frog Level Brewing Company and vice president of the Historic Frog Level Merchants Association. “The Whole Bloomin’ Thing festival kicks off the spring and summer. We wanted something in the fall.”

Local artist and former Tuscola High School art teacher Bill Eleazer created “Chasing Tadpoles” over 30 years ago. It is a multi-piece bronze statue that depicts three children playing in a pond. The piece was showcased at the former Biltmore Square Mall in Asheville for many years until the mall closed. The statue was donated to the town of Waynesville earlier this year.

Bill Litty and Jonathan Yates, of the Public Works Department, installed the statue Friday, July 25.

“It’s been a ton of work,” said Litty, of the installation process.

Tuscola High School masonry students built the rockwork base that the statue sits on, and the town of Waynesville purchased the plants for the landscaping around the statue from Grass Roots Gardens, in Waynesville.

While the statue was originally a fountain, “Chasing Tadpoles” will not use water in its new home. Instead, plants that resemble water are being used to simulate a creek bed or stream.

The corner of Commerce and Depot streets has been turned into a peaceful sitting area, with the statue at its center, and includes a bench provided by town of Waynesville, giving pedestrians in Frog Level a place to sit and relax.

Businesses in Frog Level are pleased with the statue’s presence.

“We are thrilled to have it here,” said Teri Siewert, owner of The Mahogany House and secretary of the Historic Frog Level Merchants Association.

The hope is that the festival will bring more attention to Frog Level. And due to the statue’s subject matter and child-friendly appeal — children playing in a pond and catching tadpoles — the festival is being marketed as a children’s event.

“The Haywood Waterways Association and Tim Petra, of the Waynesville Parks and Recreation Department, are going to keep the kids involved so the parents can enjoy the beer and the food and the music,” said Williams.

Children’s activities will include face painting, tie-dying and chalk art on the street. In the future, Williams hopes they can provide tubing activities to the children, taking them down the creek towards the Waynesville Recreation Center and bringing them back.

The dedication will begin promptly at 5 p.m. Ann Melton, chairwoman of the Waynesville Public Art Commission, will coordinate the dedication as well as give a history of the piece and of its journey to Frog Level.

Live music will be provided by Round the Fire and Travelers Club. A stage will be set up near the statue and an area will be left open for dancing. There will be art booths and concessions, and Frog Level Brewing Company and Panacea will both be open during the event. And a very special food item, frog legs, will be available for purchase.

“We hope this will be a thing for the festival,” said Williams. “We talked about the fire and police departments cooking hot dogs as their fundraiser and calling them ‘frog dogs.’ But then we found Frank McCleod, from Bethel, of McCleod Concessions. He does a lot of Haywood County fairs — he’s got the funnel cakes. He can actually get frog legs. We’re going to fry frog legs for that day. We’ll also have hot dogs because we know not everyone is going to eat frog legs.”

The hope is to make this an annual event that continues to grow.

“We want to bring awareness to Frog Level, not to bring money to the merchants association, but to donate money back to the arts,” said Williams. “Because the sculpture was donated, we want to give money back to the arts. The money will go towards the Waynesville Public Art Commission.”

All are invited to celebrate the new statue and participate in this inaugural event.