How did FrogFest get started? That was one of the thoughts that came up when we began talking about FrogFest 30 for this year.  30 years, that's a long time for nearly anything, especially a continuous running music festival. Fortunately one of the guys playing at this year's event played one of the original shows.

Tommy Russell is the drummer for Tompkins Drive, playing their 2nd FrogFest in a row at the Utica Rome Speedway this Saturday. He mentioned Frank Crawford, half of the original Amarillo Band was the driving force behind the starting of FrogFest. Tommy added, "I still stay in touch with Frank," who now lives in Florida.  Beautiful, we're about to get the story, "straight from the horse's mouth," so to speak.

The other half of the Amarillo Band would just happen to be Frank's wife, Julie Crawford. And they both were kind enough to take us down memory lane.  Frank says, in 1988 he approached the general manager of the radio station saying he wanted to put on a show that features just local bands.  "We as the bands will run the show, you take the credit. Everybody plays for free." Who would turn down that deal?

1988 means that even predates Big Frog 104, at that time the station was known as Jumpin Country, 96 Frog. And it didn't start as FrogFest either.  With a laugh, Franks says it was called, "The Frog Family Fun Fest." 19 acts played the first version of FrogFest and Julie recalls things weren't always smooth sailing. "One  year, my wireless system hooked up somehow with the park system and put her National Anthem throughout the whole park."

Frank calls it, "one of the smartest things I ever did."  Attendance year one was 6700, year two 8600 and year three 10-thousand.  Julie says they all still stay in touch, "We are still good friends with just about every single one of them." After 40+ years together, Frank and Julie are still performing these days in Florida. You can get their latest schedule on their FaceBook page.

And you can celebrate the 30th anniversary of the event, now known as FrogFest, at the Utica Rome Speedway this Saturday.  The show will feature 4 Central New York acts and Nashville artists, Stephanie Quayle and LOCASH.

Get your $20 tickets online at Big Frog 104 or any Price Chopper location until midnight Friday, June 8th. Tickets will be $25 at the gate.


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