COLUMBIA - The Boone County Fair Rabbit Show, sponsored by 4-H and Future Farmers of America, gives those who can't raise and compete with large livestock an opportunity to compete with smaller animals.
Inside the 4-H/FFA stable, exhibitors groomed their rabbits before the show began Thursday night. Some had been to quite a few of the shows, but for others, this was their first time competing.
The Bade sisters, Becky, 10, and Bethany, 8, raise rabbits at their home in Englewood specifically for the 4-H competitions.
Last year was Becky's first year competing, and she won best in breed with Wild Boy, a new breed of rabbit called the lionhead.
Lionhead rabbits' fur is like the mane of a lion, making it somewhat of a grooming challenge for owners, but Becky and Bethany had been preparing for this year's rabbit show all week.
"We had to brush them, trim their nails and bathe them," Becky said. "We like to come because we get to show our rabbits and look at the different ones."
Brenda Wilsdorf, 4-H Superintendent for Boone County Rabbits, said projects such as the rabbit show are important for city kids because they are unable to raise large livestock such as cows, goats and sheep for competing.
"While the project teaches the kids how to raise and compete with smaller animals, it also teaches them that smaller animals are still a big responsibility," Wilsdorf said.
For her second year at the rabbit show, exhibitor Kelsay Bruns, 11, said she liked coming to the show because it introduced her to other breeds of rabbits she can raise and show. Her Dutch rabbit won a blue ribbon in its class.
The rabbits were judged according to each breeds' standard set by the American Rabbit Association. Some features judges pay attention to are body type, eye color, toenail color and even the fur color. According to Sharon Stephenson, the judge of the show, certain breeds can only be a certain color.
According to Wilsdorf, the rabbit show also offered the participants business opportunities. "Some sell the rabbits as pets, and then we have the meat pen rabbits, which are the larger breeds and they're sold or auctioned as meat," Wilsdorf said.
Whether the rabbits are to be auctioned or sold as pets, both Wilsdorf and Stephenson said they hoped the event was a fun and knowledgeable experience for the children involved.
"If it's not fun for the kids, then it's not worth it," Stephenson said.