With more than 70 rabbit entries and 10-plus exhibitors involved, the Pratt County Fair Board agreed to let this competition take place in the air-conditioned 4-H Building again, a move greatly appreciated by those involved.
Summer heat waves bounced off the pavement outside last week as champions were picked at the 4-H Rabbit show at the Pratt County Fairgrounds, but inside the 4-H Building more than 70 rabbits and 10 or so exhibitors plus family members enjoyed the cool comfort of air conditioning as they participated in showmanship and breed evaluations.
"This is the third year we have been allowed to bring our rabbits in before the fair and use the building for our judging," said division superintendent Amy Slade. "For some of these families here, this is their first year in 4-H and in the rabbit project, so we want to have a good experience for them and getting out of the heat sure helps with that."
Prior to using the air-conditioned facility for rabbit judging, exhibitors brought their rabbits in to the outdoor buildings during the main fair week of activities. With entries numbering above 120 head, the judging, which started early in the morning, would not be finished by mid-afternoon and the heat took it's toll.
"Rabbits get grumpy when they are hot," Slade said. "There were rabbits biting kids, everyone was hot and tired. It just wasn't a good atmosphere. This is so much better."
On Saturday, groups of children sauntered around the rabbit judging room holding their favorite long-eared pets, visiting with friends and looking over the Moovin' and Groovin' prizes at the awards table. Some families had little "camps" set up with lawn chairs surrounded by mobile rabbit cages and others gathered around tables set with water bottles and free candy for exhibitors. It was a fun and relaxing atmosphere.
For Rayden and Kendrix Crow, it was a place where a wheelchair and disability did not stand in the way of learning and enjoying their rabbits, Ruby and Thumper. The sister and brother team were named reserve champion junior showmen. Conley Sterling was the grand champion junior showmanship winner.
Intermediate showmanship champions were Kenna Sterling, reserve, and Buck Slade, grand. In the senior division, Wyatt Slade was reserve champion and Sarah Skaggs won grand.
Slade brothers Wyatt and Buck were happy to hear judge’s remarks commending their Dutch rabbit breeding project as their baby female earned Best of Breed honors and their senior buck was a Best of Opposite Breed champion. Dutch rabbits must meet stringent color specifications to even be allowed to show in competition.
“She was our only surviving baby this year,” Buck Slade said. “So glad she was the right color.”
Overall, Best of Show winners, over all breeds entered, were Kenna and Conley Sterling, Reserve Grand Champion with their mini-rex junior buck, and Owen and Karen Tillquest, Grand Champion with their white New Zealand senior buck.
Judge Randy Dickerson from Reno County commended the Pratt County rabbit exhibitors for the excellent quality of their rabbits and encouraged them to consider state fair competition in September, especially the showmanship entries.