The annual Poultry and Rabbit Shows brought in dozens of young competitors Thursday, September 8th during the second day of the Cherokee County Fair.
Cherokee County Rabbit Show Supervisor Angela Eakins said it was fun to watch the participants engage in acting, especially in showbiz. Some participants experience different reactions, such as confidence or nervousness.
Eakins said that showing the little rabbits is an opportunity for kids to receive an experience of the show, without having to buy larger, more expensive animals.
“It’s a good project for the kids, especially here in the city limits, because they might not have room for a cow or a goat,” Eakins said. “So it is an easy and cheap project for all the kids to get involved in. It still teaches them the same responsibilities. You have to feed it. You have to water it. You have to take care of it.”
While the rabbit show has seen no changes this year, Eakins said they are still dealing with low participation numbers that initially occurred due to human and animal health concerns. Aakins said admissions decreased when the COVID-19 pandemic began and continued when RBD serotype 2 began to spread. She said the show had about 75 rabbits in the competition three years ago, but they only had 12 rabbits last year. The rabbit show featured 37 participants in the 2022 event.
Besides viruses, Eakins believes the reason for the lower numbers is due to inflation and rising costs.
“Everything is fine. To get good quality nutrition, you spend [over $20 per] Eakins said.
Ashton Dearduff, a sophomore at Keys High School, said rabbits are more cost-effective staple animals than cattle.
“It’s not high maintenance, but still enough maintenance to get the child to learn about it,” Derdof said.
She said participation in rabbit shows is important to the community because it teaches responsibility and leadership to the young exhibitors.
“I know there are some kids who are interested in animals, like toddlers, want to learn and having rabbits at the show helps them say, ‘Okay. ‘I can start with something small and then maybe work my way up to something bigger,’ said Derdof.
Jane Koendara, a student at Tahlequah High School, said this is her first year to show chickens, but her second year is raising them. Koendara said she has more experience showing large animals, but has noticed that the chickens appear calmer.
“You have to control such a small animal on a platform and only control its head,” Koendara said. “It’s amazing because I love the way you lead them and just make sure they stand there no matter how long you want them to stand. You don’t have to control them so much.”
Karl Wallace, THS ag teacher, only students participated in the poultry show this year, not the rabbit show. The poultry show contained 97 animal entries. Wallace said that THS actually hatch chicks at the school, which are then given to students to raise over the summer before the county fair. Wallace said the competition helps students learn good work habits and responsibility.
“In any kind of livestock enterprise, there are all kinds of life skills that you have the opportunity to teach young people. [The animals] Don’t feed if [the kids] Don’t walk there [and take care of them]Wallace said.
While there are significant differences between poultry and rabbit displays, Wallace does not see much difference between the projects themselves.
“Honestly, there isn’t much difference in any of the livestock projects and what the kids are learning. It’s all about teaching the same life skills—teaching them empathy and responsibility and that work habits pay off,” Wallace said.
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