High drama at rabbit show

Children compete for prestigious Best in Show ribbon

The Routt County Fair's open rabbit show had several youths teeter-tottering on their toes Wednesday wondering whether their rabbits would win the prestigious Best in Show ribbon.

Superintendent Patty Muh--me said the open rabbit show was canceled in several previous years because of a lack of participation and time constraints. But since reappearing on the fair's schedule last year, the open rabbit show is growing slowly but surely.

Muhme said there were only two entries last year, but she thinks that was because people didn't know the rabbit show was back on the fair schedule. This year's show featured five entries.

"We only had five entries, but we don't care," she said.

Muhme said the open rabbit show is a special event because it allows youths too young to show their rabbits in the 4-H show and youths not involved in 4-H to come out and show off their animals.

Muhme said participants as young as 4 showed their rabbits during this year's show.

Rabbit judge Leo Clymer, of Laramie, Wyo., had the honor of checking the five rabbits entered -- a combination of mini lops, Himalayans and Netherlands dwarfs -- before judging which animal would be awarded the Best in Show ribbon.

"I look at their coats, their teeth and the overall condition of the animal," Clymer said as he turned a rabbit over in his hands and brushed its fur.

Clymer has been a rabbit breeder for 25 years and said he was honored to judge the rabbits for this year's fair.

After the five contestants completed the rigorous check-up, each was separated into a cage, and their owners stood nearby waiting to see which would win.

In addition to the Best in Show winner, there was one Best of Breed winner for each type of breed.

"All of the rabbits were of a really good quality," Muhme said.

But there could be only one winner. Oreo, a Himalayan rabbit, proudly took the honor while his owner, Mariah Hoots, 8, of Steamboat Springs, accepted the ribbons.

"I feel really good about myself right now," she said.

Mariah has had Oreo for about 3 months and has worked with her regularly to perfect the art of showing a rabbit.

"We had a lot of practice, because I would show him at my house and lay him out and do all the hard stuff there," she said.

Mariah has shown other rabbits in previous shows but was happy to have a Best in Show animal to call her own.

"I enjoy this because it's fun and because it's a way to learn new things," she said.

Muhme said that youths who get involved with showing animals learn more than just how to feed and take care of them.

Muhme's children have been showing rabbits for 18 years, and she said she has watched them learn teamwork, cooperation and responsibility.

"It takes a lot of commitment, even to show rabbits," she said. "It's not just feeding them, giving them water and taking them to the fair."

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