A chance to show off | TheUnion.com

A chance to show off

Rabbits and birds flocked to the fairgrounds to strut their stuff this weekend, and children showcased the skills they’ve gained from raising the animals, making the eighth annual Happy Valley Rabbit and Poultry Show “extremely successful,” Secretary of Show Teresia Renwick said.

Scott Williamson, a large man wearing a smock and flannel shirt, barked out directions to the children, telling them where to be and when for the separate contests that are held for the 47 different breeds of rabbits.

“You’ve got to have a big mouth to be a rabbit judge,” said Williamson, 51, a professor of animal science at Cal State in Fresno, who said he has been involved with rabbits since he bought his fir st one for $1.50 at the age of 10.

Dressed in identical white and green uniforms, Jill and Aaron Wippermann, 15-year-old twins from the Gold Country 4-H club, were at Sunday’s show with their rabbits, Clover and Molly, respectively.

“Because they’re fun and easy to take care of,” Aaron said regarding her reasons for raising rabbits, adding that she also enjoys getting to “know (the rabbits’) personalities.”

“To be involved with animals and public speaking” were among Jill’s reasons. She said her favorite part is “maybe just seeing all the different rabbits.”

Barbecue smoke and smells wafted into the fairgrounds building throughout Sunday’s show. Bruce Parker, whose wife Desiree is a leader with the Grass Valley 4-H club, was manning the grill. Bruce said he had served 40 hamburgers and half as many chicken fillets by noon.

“They really know those rabbits,” Lorena Ferchaud of Rough Ready, who was judging the showmanship aspect of the competition, said regarding the children who were participating.

The showmanship contest tests the children’s ability to raise the creatures, but the featured contest is judging the appearance and health of the animals themselves.

In addition to the 625 rabbits that filled the fairgrounds building on Sunday, there were 366 birds in the poultry show on Saturday, Renwick said.

Although there were more birds at this year’s show than last year’s, Jeri Stone, another official at the show, said they have “still got a way to go” before poultry numbers rebound to where they were before concerns about Newcastle disease caused many members in 4-H and Future Farmers of America to switch to raising rabbits.

In addition to the normal fun that has accompanied the show during the past eight years, this year, Renwick said, “The weather held out,” making the day even more fun for everyone.

To reach the staff writer Josh Singer, e-mail joshs@theunion.com or call 477-4234.

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