Frog Fest at Muddy Paws Marsh to celebrate wetland preservation

Saturday’s forecast calls for rain in Spring Mills — which is probably a good omen, as far as frog festivals go.

Underwater or not, Muddy Paws Marsh will host its seventh annual Frog Fest from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the hopes of putting a friendly face to the preservation of wetland habitats.

Sure, said face happens to be one that only a mother could love, but at least it comes in variety. Filling out the roster of creature features will be four different types of frogs —green, pickerel, spring peepers and bullfrogs — plus a few American toads, a couple of snakes and a handful of turtles.

The choice between headliners wasn’t all that difficult. After all, in these situations, branding is key.

“If I had a snake fest, I don’t think people would come,” Mary Kay Williams, co-owner of Muddy Paws Marsh, said.

Williams and her husband Greg purchased the 40-acre property off of Penns Valley Road back in 1991 and have done their best to share the natural — and altogether soggy — wonders in their own backyard with the community.

Frog Fest is an invitation to commune with an honest-to-goodness wetland habitat free of charge. A word of caution — communing sometimes requires old shoes.

“One of the goals is to get into nature and also get a little dirty too,” Williams said.

It’s educational dirt, though. Jim Julian, an assistant professor of biology and environmental studies at Penn State Altoona, will supplement the fresh air with some freewheeling knowledge about amphibians and their milieu.

“I can find tadpoles from up to five different species of frog at Muddy Paws Marsh, and the kids (as well as the adults) are shocked by their variety of shapes, sizes and ages. Some tadpoles we find are over 4-inches long, and more than two years old before they metamorphose into frogs,” Julian said.

Also on the day’s docket is bird watching, a hunt for macro-invertebrates and a few words on pollinator gardens from the Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Centre County.

If anything, visitors should show up just to get a taste of what it’s like to live next door to a wetland — an arrangement that Williams makes sound kind of fun, actually.

“We’re kind of like modern Shrek’s,” Williams said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

If you go

What: FrogFest

When: 3-6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Muddy Paws Marsh, 4158 Penns Valley Road, Spring Mills

Info: pennsvalley.net/muddypaws.htm