Children and adults alike were on hand at the 2018 Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair’s Rabbit Show, one of many events scheduled for this week at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds.
The rabbit barn at the fairgrounds was thick with the smell of wooden shavings as spectators sat off to the side on bleachers; others walked about looking at rabbits, in some cases three of them to a cage.
Emma Hobbs, 12, entered her rabbit Sugar in the show. As she reached into the cage to pet Sugar, she said that even before first entering Sugar three years ago, the show has always been something she has enjoyed.
“I like to see different rabbits and I think it is fun for the judge to ask you questions about what you know about rabbits every year,” Hobbs said.
In all, about 221 rabbits were entered into this year’s show, according to Todie Armstrong, a Chaves County 4-H volunteer and self-described rabbit superintendent who has helped organize the show. She said though that not all the rabbits that had been entered were brought to the show, with different contestants citing different reasons.
Armstrong said rabbits entered in the show are placed in one of four classes based on their breeds: meat pen, commercial class, fancy class and cross class.
Cross class are rabbits of mixed breed, Armstrong said.
Rabbits are later judged by weight, bone structure, hair and overall health, Armstrong said.
Anything not “picture perfect” on a rabbit in terms of health — such as a broken toe or tail — is grounds for disqualification, Platt said.
The field is then narrowed through subsequent rounds of judging, until the best in each class are determined. Meat pens and commercial and fancy class breeds were later judged. Winners in each class are awarded ribbons, while the top three overall rabbits are awarded trophies.
Estefania Benavides, 16, of Dexter said entering a rabbit in the show is not as easy as it seems. This year she entered two meat pen rabbits and six cross class.
Before entering, she said, a contestant has to find the rabbits and make sure they are healthy.
Armstrong, whose children used to participate in the show, said the show is just one part of a larger learning experience for the children who take part.
“It teaches them responsibility,” she said.
Platt added that it is a more cost-effective way of teaching children about animal husbandry than using other types of animals.
At the end of the week, children will have the opportunity to sell their meat pen rabbits.
Hobbs said selling the rabbits is not always easy, “especially when they [the rabbits] are so small and cute.”
She said that last year she entered one of Sugar’s babies into the show and sold her. That same baby was back this year among the crowd of other rabbits and with a different owner.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.