In the heart of New England lies the small town of Windham, a place that has turned an obscure historical event into a symbol of community pride and cultural identity. The town’s celebration of frogs, a tradition dating back to the mid-18th century, has become a rich tapestry of art, music, and folklore. This article takes a leap into the whimsical world of Windham’s frogs, exploring the historical roots, artistic expressions, and modern celebrations that make this tradition so unique.

The Historical Background

The story begins on an unseasonably warm summer night in the mid-18th century (1754). The details of what transpired that night remain shrouded in mystery, but it set the stage for a tradition that would resonate with generations to come. The Windham frog fight, as it came to be known, became a Batrachomyomachia, a term that refers to a comical or trivial subject treated in an elevated style.

The Night of the Frogs

The legend has it that the townsfolk were awakened by a cacophony of noises, later discovered to be the croaking of frogs. The sound was so intense that it led to various interpretations and inspired the imagination of poets and artists. The event was immortalized in epic comic poems, turning a simple natural occurrence into a symbol of whimsy and creativity.

Frog ornament on Thread City Bridge.gk 1
One of the frog sculptures at the corner of the Thread City Bridge (“Frog Bridge”) in Willimantic, Connecticut.

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Artistic Representations

The frogs of Windham have leaped into various forms of art and expression.

Banknotes and Currency

Before the U.S. had a national currency, the Windham Bank took the extraordinary step of issuing banknotes featuring a frog standing on top of another frog. This unique design became a symbol of local identity and pride.

1280px Windham Bank one dollar banknote
The $1 banknote issued by the Windham Bank includes a depiction of a dead frog with another frog sitting on top of it.

“The Frogs of Windham” Musical

In 1905, the local opera house mounted an operetta titled “The Frogs of Windham.” This musical has enjoyed several local revivals, each time capturing the hearts of the audience with its blend of humor, history, and local flavor.

The Windham “Bull-Frog Song” with introduction. Source: wikimedia

Modern Celebrations

The tradition is alive and well in Windham, with the local brewery hosting an annual Hop Fest.

Hop Fest: A Celebration of Heritage

The Hop Fest is more than just a festival; it’s a celebration of Windham’s heritage. The town has fully embraced the frog, turning what was originally a joke into a proud symbol of community. The festival includes music, art, and, of course, hops, creating a vibrant and joyful atmosphere.


The celebration of frogs in Windham is a remarkable example of how a seemingly trivial event can become a cornerstone of cultural identity. Through sculptures, poetry, songs, and festivals, the frogs of Windham have become enduring symbols of a town’s unique heritage. They leap forward as reminders of the power of storytelling, art, and community, turning a simple joke into a rich and whimsical tradition that continues to inspire and unite the people of Windham. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, the frogs of Windham invite you to hop along and explore a world where history, art, and whimsy come together in a celebration of what makes a community truly special.

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