Birds and bunnies dominate at Middle Park Fair and Rodeo this week
Exhibitors take the stage with rabbit and poultry projects as fair continues
On Tuesday, August 2, 4-H and FFA members raising rabbits and poultry had their chance in the spotlight at the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo. The exhibit barn was full of a variety of bunnies, meat chickens, breeding hens, gobbling turkeys, waddling ducks and one goose. Exhibitors stepped up to present their animals to the judges in several different categories, including showmanship, meat production or breeding.
“Rabbits and poultry are a really fun project for kids because you don’t have to live on a ranch to take care of them,” said parent Connie Smith. “When you think of 4-H, you think of steers and horses, but there’s a lot more. With chickens or rabbits, even city kids can be a part of 4-H.”
Smith’s son Wyatt is in his third year showing chickens through Kremmling’s Blue Ribbon Livestock 4-H club. Blue Ribbon, the oldest continual 4-H club in the county, is celebrating its 50th year anniversary. Wyatt’s grandparents, Paul Schuh and Susan Kirchhoff, were also proudly standing by as Wyatt showed his chickens, winning Grand Champion of Junior Showmanship. Kirchhoff added that Wyatt also won best in show at last year’s fair, thanks to his calm handling of the chicken to keep it well-mannered.
In poultry showmanship, the judge looks for cleanliness and health of the bird; then quizzes the exhibitor on how much they’ve learned about their animal. Smith explained that judges also examine if the bird is a good representation of their breed, and perfectly matches breed characteristics.
There are several breeds of laying hens children can exhibit, as well as meat chickens. Smith pointed out the vast difference between the egg layers and the meat chickens. The laying hens were petite, with glossy brown feathers. The meat chickens were understandably much larger, since they grow quickly to be ready for market in time.
Depending on where they live in Grand County, children may be able to raise chickens in their backyard without needing too much space. Chickens thrive when they have a roost to sleep on at night, a well-ventilated coop and an enclosed, predator-proof run where they can get exercise. Ducks, geese or turkeys are a great project for kids who have a little more space.
Rabbits are also a popular project for 4-H since just like poultry, they don’t need acres of space and are more manageable to raise. Rabbits are a good beginner animal for children just getting into 4-H. Many 4-H’ers who have larger projects such as swine or steers can also raise rabbits at the same time.
Like poultry, there were both breeding categories and meat categories during Tuesday’s rabbit show. During the showmanship portion, children carefully handled their rabbits so the judge could see how healthy and well-cared for the animal was. Amber Hester of Kremmling’s 3R’s 4-H club received 2 purple ribbons for her rabbits: Overall Reserve Grand Champion and Overall Grand Champion.
In addition to getting a chance to take home a purple ribbon, winners in Tuesday’s showmanship category also received a belt buckle and a jacket embroidered by Mountain Mama’s Embroidery. Even if children didn’t go home with a 1st place win, the day was a success for the exhibitors, since each child gave it their all, getting a chance to present the animals they’d worked hard to raise. What was once a tiny turkey or a chirping chick made it to the showring, thanks to the kids who took care of them all year.
Although the rabbit and poultry show has ended, there’s still plenty to look forward to at the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo. Today will feature a beef show, horse competition and “dress your pet” show. Saturday, August 6 offers plenty of cook-offs and a luncheon, with the Junior Livestock Sale rounding out the week. At the sale, buyers can support 4-H and FFA members by purchasing their animal. Children step into the auction ring with their animal, where their hard work will pay off thanks to the winning bidder. The proceeds from the sale will help kids purchase their project for next year, or support their college fund. For more information on the livestock sale, or a schedule of remaining events for the fair and rodeo, visit middleparkfairandrodeo.com.
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