Spain has the running of the bulls. But on Labor Day, for the 45th time, Norridgewock had the running of the frogs.

Monday marked the 45th annual Oosoola Days for the town, a celebration for residents to come together as a community and partake in various events, including the annual frog race. Val Trial, one of the organizers for the events, said she has been involved since 2004, but remembers going to Oosoola Days when she was a child. She said she had never seen so many people attending the event before Monday, where a few hundred gathered for events that began with a parade from the Mill Stream Elementary School and included a pet show, sack races, a three-legged race and watermelon eating contest. She said there were more vendors this year than ever before as well.

“It has been amazing, I’m overwhelmed,” she said.

Oosoola Days is a two day event, which began on Sunday at the Central Maine Regional Airport with a 5k race, airplane rides and touch-a-truck feature, and culminated at the Oosoola Park off Route 2 on the banks of the Kennebec River on Labor Day. Trial said participating businesses and vendors, such as Darling’s Ice Cream Truck and the Norridgewock Sportsman Club, had been very supportive. And while Sunday’s events barely missed the rain, those in Oosoola Park couldn’t have asked for a lovelier day, with sunny and clear skies and weather in the 60s.

“This is what I’ve wanted it to be for so many, many years,” she said.

On hand at the event was a bounce house for kids, as well as the playground. Before the frog race, kids were outside the park selling frogs they had caught that day, in case anyone wanted to join the race last minute. Lindsay Obert said sales hadn’t been Monday morning, but didn’t seem deterred. She said she sold frogs at last year’s Oosoola Days as well.

“Some of the bull frogs are $6 or $7,” she said, with a cooler full of big frogs before her. She said she had about 12 frogs to sell, but only one person had bought a frog so far.

“I catch frogs all the time,” she said.

Town Manager Richard LaBelle, prior to taking his turn at the dunk tank, said Oosoola Days is a lot of work to plan, with a small team working on it since December. But, he said it was worth it, since the turnout was great.

“It’s a good time for Norridgewock,” he said.

Trial said she remembers when her own kids were selling frogs for the race, and eventually got older and started helping run events. She said Oosoola Days used to be held before the start of school, as a way to send the kids off back to school. Eventually it moved to Labor Day weekend, and became a community event full of activities.

“The kids are so pumped when they come to the circle,” she said, meaning the circle for the frog race. The race — ranging from kid, intermediate to adult — features participants with their frogs at an outer circle. They then release their frogs, and clap, stomp the ground or blow on the frogs to get them to hop into an inner circle.

“Sometimes there are so many kids we have to have a bracket,” Trial said.

One of the participants, Dylan Morrissey, said he caught his frog the day of the race. He named it “Frogzilla.” Morrissey, who is from Connecticut, tried with all his might to urge Frogzilla to hop into the circle, but eventually the frog gave up.

“He wouldn’t move,” he said.

Sean Morrissey, Dylan’s father, said they have family in Norridgewock and frequently come to Oosoola Days. He joked that Dylan had been training all week for the frog race, and that it was Dylan’s first time doing the race.

“We come up all the time,” he said.

In addition to the frog race, the Morrissey’s said they enjoyed going to the airport on Saturday and the food vendors, including hand made whoopie pies. When asked what might become of Frogzilla after the race, Dylan Morrissey was quick to answer.

“Probably eat him,” the boy said.

Trial said the frogs are generally brought back to wherever they came from and are released back into the wild after Oosoola Days. She estimated that things were going well for the 45th annual celebration, which she stressed was for the kids. She remembers coming to the event since she was 5 years old, and now said she felt humbled to see it so successful.

“We used to be one of these kids running around,” she said.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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