The Garfield County Fair: Rabbits, pigs and turkeys, oh my!
RIFLE — There’s a lot to learn, prepare for and explain about rabbits for the Garfield County 4-H youth who participated in the rabbit showmanship, breeding and market events at the county fair this week.
From basic feeding and care, to knowing the different breeds and breeding techniques, learning how to show them, being able to explain the parts of the animal, and raise them with potential market value in mind, rabbits are a lot of work.
It’s almost like school.
“There’s a lot of studying and reading, and you really have to be prepared for any questions the judges ask,” said 15-year-old Hannah Hayden of Carbondale, who was last year’s grand champion in the rabbit competition and took the runner-up reserve champion award in showmanship Tuesday night.
Hayden, who has been a 4-H participant at the Garfield County fair for seven years, also showed a pig this year. But most of her success has been with rabbits.
“There’s a big routine you have to do for [rabbit] showmanship,” explained Josey Morford, also of Carbondale, who won this year’s grand champion in that event Tuesday.
“You have to know about the different breeds, color patterns, diseases to protect against, what the different disqualifications are …,” said Morford, 13, as she and Hayden prepared for Wednesday’s rabbit breeding and market show. “It’s a lot of work to get ready.”
Their younger club mate, Cheyenne Stoner, 11, of Old Snowmass, admits she likes the showmanship event most.
“You get to handle the rabbit, so it gives you something to do,” she said while also preparing for the market show, where participants just stand behind their rabbits as the judge does all the handling.
While steers, pigs and goats, not to mention the big-arena horse and other rodeo events, tend to get most of the attention at the fair, there’s a lot happening in the exhibit hall at the Garfield County Fairgrounds involving smaller animals throughout the week.
Coming up today will be the poultry and fowl show categories, including turkeys and ducks.
4-H at the fair
4-H (Head, Hands, Heart and Health) events are a big part of the fair each year, and the number of participants is growing, said Kim Schriver, 4-H youth development coordinator and interim Garfield County Extension director.
This year, 297 youth from throughout Garfield County, as well as parts of Pitkin and Eagle counties and the DeBeque area, are involved. That’s up from 254 participants last year, Schriver said.
The fair includes a total of 1,181 4-H class entries this year in livestock alone, plus 347 entries in 47 different project areas, ranging from scrapbooking and photography to crocheting and cake decorating.
In addition, more than 200 volunteers help stage the 4-H events at the fair each year, Schriver said.
In the swine show on Wednesday, winning the grand champion award for his cross-breed Hampshire-Yorkshire pig was Josiah Rider, 14, of Rifle.
“It’s pretty exciting to finally get grand champion,” he said. “I took reserve in 2009, but I finally got it done this year.
“I had another pig here, too, so that way if the judges didn’t like one style I’d have another option,” Rider added.
In the past, he said he has participated in multiple events, including the steer show. But this year he decided to concentrate on his pigs.
More to come
The 75th annual Garfield County Fair continues at the Fairgrounds in Rifle today through Sunday.
On the livestock slate beginning at 8 a.m. today are the sheep, poultry and goat shows. There’s also the open class apple pie contest at noon in the south hall beneath the grandstands.
And, the big concert event of the week is also tonight at 7 p.m., featuring the Charlie Daniels Band and opener Jack Ingram.
Friday events include the beef show at 10 a.m., coronation of the Garfield County Fair queen at 6:50 p.m., and the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association rodeo at 7 p.m.
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