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Frogs Race to the Finish Line in Arkansas

April 15, 2001|ELLEN MELINKOFF

Arkansas

The highlight of Toad Suck Daze, May 4 to 6 in Conway, is frog jump racing, not actual toad sucking. Legend has it that long ago, when the Arkansas River was low, boatmen would drink so much that locals said they swelled up like toads. Now crowds cheer as local schoolchildren rally their pet toads across the finish line. Out-of-town kids can adopt toads for the day and race them. Also planned: a parade filled with drum and kazoo bands, and baby crawl races. Conway is 30 miles west of Little Rock.

For more information, contact the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, 900 Oak St., Conway, AR 72032; telephone (501) 327-7788, http://www.toadsuck.org.

Louisiana

Contraband Days, May 1 to 13 in Lake Charles, brings to life the era when swashbuckling pirates and buccaneers roamed the local water-even Jean Lafitte himself is supposed to have left buried contraband here. Festival highlights include three parades (two on water), a reenactment of Lafitte's arrival, Cajun dances, water wars and animal shows. There's also arm wrestling, bathtub races and a crawfish eating contest.

For more information, contact Contraband Days, P.O. Box 679, Lake Charles, LA 70602; http://www.contrabanddays.com.

Maryland

The Preakness is more than a horse race; it is the middle jewel in the Triple Crown. Preakness Celebration 2001 is a festival, from May 11 to 19, that attracts half a million people. The hot-air balloon fest offers five launches from different Baltimore locations plus an illuminated balloon finale with more than 30 balloons lighting up the night sky. The 28th annual Preakness Parade, on Pratt Street in downtown Baltimore, features marching bands and floats. Also planned: a frog jumping contest, crab derby, schooner race to and from Ft. McHenry and kids' hobby horse race.

Contact the Preakness Celebration, World Trade Center, 401 E. Pratt St., Suite 311, Baltimore, MD 21202; tel. (410) 837-3030, http://www.preaknesscelebration.com.

Missouri

Lewis & Clark Heritage Days, May 19 and 20 in St. Charles, celebrates the 1804 departure of the two adventurers on their trek to map the Western frontier. Reenactors in period costume will bring the era to life, along with a military encampment, fife and drum corps, and 18th and 19th century drill tactics displays. Also planned: craft and culinary demonstrations of the early 19th century, a costumed grand parade and a re-creation of the actual launch. St. Charles is on the Missouri River, a 30-minute drive from St. Louis.

For more information, contact Lewis & Clark Heritage Days, 230 S. Main St., St. Charles, MO 63301; tel. (636) 946-7776, http://www.historicstcharles.com.

Texas

The 28th annual Strawberry Festival in Pasadena, the "Strawberry Capital of the South," promises Texas' largest strawberry shortcake, plus a barbecue cook-off, street parade, baby parade, petting zoo and mud volleyball contests. The nonstop entertainment includes a magician, ventriloquist and hypnotist.

For more information, contact the San Jacinto Day Foundation, 7603 Red Bluff Road, Pasadena, TX 77507; tel. (281) 991-9500, http://www.strawberryfest.org.

Canada

The Canadian Tulip Festival, May 11 to 21 in and around Ottawa, promises more than 2 million blooms along the 10-mile Tulip Route. This year's event salutes Britain's tulip industry and gardens with large floral arrangements inspired by British art, a tribute to the Chelsea Flower show, and British performers at the nightly concerts. The festival ends with the Clarica Flotilla on the Rideau Canal, a water parade of 75 fancifully decorated boats.

Contact Canadian Tulip Festival, 112 Nelson St., Suite 106, Ottawa, Canada K1N 7R5; tel. (613) 567-4447, http://www.tulipfestival.ca.

Netherlands

May 12 is National Windmill Day, when windmills are open throughout the country. Visitors can go inside to see how they work. More than half of Holland's windmills will be open, including six in Amsterdam. Participating windmills can be recognized by blue flags.

Contact the Netherlands Board of Tourism, 355 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10017; tel. (212) 370-7360, http://www.goholland.com.

Mexico

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at its source, the city of Puebla, which is less than two hours' drive southeast of Mexico City. It was here, on May 5, 1862, that the battle the holiday commemorates took place when Mexican troops defeated French forces. Although it took five more years to drive the French out of Mexico for good, this battle has become a cause of revelry. Puebla celebrates with a parade and fireworks.

Contact the Mexico Government Tourism Office, 2401 W. 6th St., 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90057; tel. (213) 351-2069, http://www.mexico-travel.com.

Events appears monthly.

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