Wednesday, August 31, 2011

MN State Fair: Rabbits

As I mentioned earlier, I will be writing about my past experiences as a 4-Her at the Minnesota State Fair for the rest of the week, as the "Great Minnesota Get Together" is currently going on. I showed rabbits in 4-H for many years and showed them at the state fair for as many years as I could from 6th grade (when 4-hers in MN are state fair eligible) on. I recently sold most of my rabbit herd of Jersey Woolies, but intend to get back into the hobby once I can. I also showed dairy steer for a few years, but rabbits were my main livestock project.

As a kid just out of 6th grade, I was shy and quiet and did not know anyone else going to the state fair well. Luckily, I met three girls, one a year older than me and twins who were 2 years older, who also showed rabbits and showed me the ropes of the state fair. I attended the wedding of one of those girls just this January.

Besides caring for the rabbits and everything that entails, there are three mandatory things that every state fair 4-h rabbit exhibitor has to do: spend time at a rabbit educational booth, participate in a skill-a-thon and take a quiz, and participate in showmanship. I enjoyed all of these. At the educational booth, each county signed up for a two hour time slot for the exhibitors to sit with their rabbits at a table as people came up to pet the rabbits and often asked questions. One of the amazing things about the Minnesota State Fair is the educational aspect and each barn has an educational exhibit or booth. One of my younger brothers has Rex rabbits that he took to the state fair when he was old enough. People were always amazed when they got to pet his rabbits as they have fur that feels like velvet.

The skill-a-thon/quiz involved testing on the exhibitor's rabbit knowledge, and the degree of difficulty increased as the exhibitor moved up in age groups. The top 10% from the skill-a-thon/quiz in each age group are finalists and were called back to do personal interviews on their rabbit knowledge and what they have done with their rabbit project. Each 4-h species at the MN state fair has a similar system. For rabbits, the top two winners in each age group from the personal interviews received a chair. Getting a chair was always a big achievement and one our chaperones were excited to hear about.

One of my brothers and I with my mom in 2008 when we both were interview winners.

In 2009, all of my siblings were interview finalists. Another interview finalist from my county is also in the picture.

With my interview chair my last year of 4-H, 2009. This was my 3rd chair and it now sits in my apartment until I get a couch (tomorrow!).

Though I loved when my rabbits showed well, my real niche in the rabbit project was showmanship. I loved to read about rabbits and studied all the time for fun. I was always looking for new ways to gain knowledge. At the state fair, the best of the best come together and I knew it was tough competition as I competed against many of the same people in open shows, but I made it my goal to win showmanship at the state fair.

After winning Advanced Showmanship in 2008. The rabbit I took that year molted his "wool cap", or fur on his forehead, just before judging and got a blue.

In 2009, I was put into a "Select" showmanship class with just two exhibitors. It was for those who had won Advanced showmanship or who taken an ARBA registrar's test, both of which I had done. The rabbit in the picture, Bingo, won a purple ribbon.

Being among so many knowledgeable rabbit exhibitors at the state fair kept me striving to do my best and reach my goals. 

I started out showing rabbits at the state fair as a shy little 6th grader who hardly knew anyone and eventually became more outgoing and was the one showing the younger exhibitors the ropes around the state fair. I made many friends through showing rabbits at the state fair and it has been rewarding to see the younger kids that I remember showing around the fair do well themselves. The MN state fair is truly an amazing experience for 4-Hers. 

Finally, this is my youngest brother with his Reserve Champion Mini Lop at the state fair this year. I couldn't be there for the show this year, as I was last year, but it was good to hear that he did well.

1 comment:

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