Frogman Festival Celebrates the Four-Foot-Tall Cryptid Allegedly Roaming Loveland

“The vibe of the Frogman in the cryptid community, I think, is one of love and adoration for this strange, little creature.”

Feb 22, 2023 at 5:10 am
click to enlarge A festival celebrating the Loveland Frogman is coming to the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason on March 4. - Artist Rendoring: Tim Bertlink
Artist Rendoring: Tim Bertlink
A festival celebrating the Loveland Frogman is coming to the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason on March 4.

Ohio is weird. Several books have been published on topics that explore Ohio’s hauntings, myths, legends and lore. 

Weird Ohio details abandoned places like “Hell Town” in Summit County, local connections to the famed Mothman, ghosts in the woods of Old Xenia, random Bigfoot sightings, origin stories of the “Hollow Earth Theory” and its founder John Cleves Symmes and, of course, unidentified flying objects.

But if Ohio is a weird state, then Cincinnati is its cryptid capital, and local folklore enthusiast and cartographer, Jeff Craig, aims to put the Queen City on the map, literally. 

Craig is the creator of Map in Black, a map of North America that pinpoints Cincinnati for a little-known reason. The map examines places known for aliens, hauntings, native lands, sacred geography, cryptids, ecology, unexplained mysteries, strange occurrences and Cincinnati’s very own legend of the Loveland Frogman. 

There’s a whole subculture of pseudoscience dedicated to the unknown, extinct, fabled and sometimes controversial animals called cryptozoology. Animals believed to inhabit earth but never scientifically proven to exist are cryptids. 

According to Craig, there’s no cryptid quite like Cincinnati’s Frogman.

“The Frogman is a reptoid that lives in the Little Miami River and has been seen a couple of times since probably the 1950s,” Craig tells CityBeat. “It is very elusive in its nature and is just so unique to our area. No matter where I go, if I'm in Iowa, or I'm in West Virginia, people are like, ‘Oh, Frogman. I know the Loveland Frogman.’ And that's our local cryptid. It's not seen anywhere else.”

“There's been some other lizard-type creatures that people have seen other places,” Craig continues. “But the Frogman is so specific to the Cincinnati area.”

An inaugural event celebrating the legend is coming to Cincinnati March 4. Co-created by Craig and John Stamey, the Frogman Festival will feature speakers, vendors, games and other entertainment at the Great Wolf Lodge Conference Center in Mason. It’s designed to celebrate and popularize the legend while exploring the importance of storytelling, creatures like Mothman and Bigfoot, the Frogman’s habitat, local supernatural phenomena and more. 

Craig says that the Frogman Festival wasn’t created to prove the creature’s existence – it’s more about the fun of speculation and the celebration of a legend Cincinnati can call its own. Some questions are better left unanswered, he says.

Craig adds that he’d hoped for the event to be held in Loveland — home of the Frogman — but the most accessible event space turned out to be the Great Wolf Lodge. But no matter where, it was time to pay tribute to the Frogman, Craig says.

“I just felt like we weren't celebrating it or honoring the legend, really, at all,” Craig says. “And there's just people in the cryptid community who have been talking about it for the last couple of years. And it's like, yeah, why don’t we do anything?”

Erin Shaw, a speaker at the Frogman Festival, will inspire speculation on the Frogman’s diet as she discusses flora and fauna of the Little Miami River. Shaw is a park ranger and naturalist at Caesar Creek State Park. 

Sometimes called the Loveland Lizard, the Loveland Frog or simply Frogman, the creature is said to walk on its hind legs, stand 4 feet tall, possibly wield magic and live in the river — maybe under a giant rock or a colossal lily pad. Craig says the Frogman probably has a typical amphibian diet of insects or small fish. 

The Frogman has only been spotted a handful of times, first in the '50s and then in the ’70s. That’s when it allegedly had a run-in with authorities: a local police officer shot at it when it was crossing the road, Craig says. A more recent claim was in 2016 when a man playing Pokemon GO spotted it on Loveland Madeira Road.

“The vibe of the Frogman in the cryptid community, I think, is one of love and adoration for this strange, little creature,” Craig says. “Maybe not so little, but a strange creature that minds its own business. It's probably kind of ugly in the sense of being a reptile, though many of us find frogs and toads and lizards adorable in their own way. But it’s just the slimy creature that comes out every decade or two. I've not really heard of anyone being threatened or scared by it.”

The Frogman Festival will feature Frogman merchandise like T-shirts, posters and art made by local artists. Cartridge Brewing will host an afterparty during which it will debut its Frogman IPA, on tap for a limited time. 

At the festival, visitors can also purchase Craig’s Map in Black as well as books about Ohio and Cincinnati oddities like 2022’s Southern Ohio Legends and Lore by James A. Willis.

click to enlarge Art Academy of Cincinnati graduate Easton Hawk created Frogman fan art. - Photo: Provided by Jeff Craig
Photo: Provided by Jeff Craig
Art Academy of Cincinnati graduate Easton Hawk created Frogman fan art.

Willis — who is a guest speaker at the festival — is an author and paranormal researcher who founded The Ghosts of Ohio, a nationally recognized paranormal research organization. He’s also co-author of Weird Ohio and other Ohio-related, research-based tales of strangeness. 

Southern Ohio Legends and Lore includes a narrative on the Loveland Frogman. It also details Willis’ experiences at the Loveland Castle, explores the infamous local bootlegger George Remus and accounts for a headless motorcycle ghost that roams a rural roadway, among many other topics.

Willis describes himself as a “middle-of-the-road” theorist and researcher. He studies and collects empirical data, organizes ghost hunts and even debunks all kinds of alleged tales.

“I personally believe the reason ghost stories or myths are so important is that they are part of our history,” Willis tells CityBeat. “If you take out the logistics of, ‘Is that ghost really there?’ — for me, I don't want to say I could care less, but what’s more important is the idea that ghost stories, even urban legends and folktales, become a part of our own history.”

“And a lot of the stories, even the urban legends, have actual history nuggets within them, as well as a bunch of made-up elaborated things,” Willis continues. “But it's those little nuggets of actual history that work to keep history alive.”

The Frogman Festival runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 4 at the Great Wolf Lodge, 2501 Great Wolf Dr., Mason. Info:

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