ANGELINA CO., Texas — At 10 am on Wednesday, March 23 at the Angelina County Fair, the breeding, and market rabbit show kicks off. That day, Grant Ashby, a 4-H and FFA member will compete again in the market rabbit show.
An estimated 180 rabbits from 60 families will take part in the 2022 market rabbit competition. The show sponsor is PID Services, Inc.
Grant is the 17 years old son of Nickie and Trent Ashby. He is a Junior at Lufkin High School and describes himself as “athletic, joyful, fun and a hard worker.” His hobbies include cross country and track, fishing, and spending time with my friends.
Grant states, “I joined 4-H because my big brother was in it, and I wanted to be able to participate in the county fair, just like him. Before I was able to show in ‘the Big Show,’ I participated in the pee wee show, where I got hands on experience showing goats and knew that as soon as I was able, I would join 4-H and be a fair exhibitor.
“My favorite part of the fair is twofold,” he continues, “on one hand, I love to show off my projects and all of the hard work that has gone into them. Secondly, I enjoy hanging out with my friends from across the county.”
A few weeks ago on Saturday, February 19th at the Hudson Ag Department, market rabbits were declared in the actual possession of the exhibitor as well as under their care and feeding. Rabbits were tattooed in the ear for identification, and thus “validated”. Each exhibitor could enter up to two pens with a limit of seven rabbits per pen, but each exhibitor still would be limited to one pen of their best three rabbits for the competition.
Additionally, market rabbits cannot be more than 75 days old at day of show and may not weigh more than 5 lbs. per rabbit. Rabbits will be weighed at time of check in by superintendent and given a 2-ounce variance.
If any rabbit in pen is unhealthy, entire pen will be eliminated from competition. Health and any other disqualifications are in accordance with the American Rabbit Breeders Association rules
He explains, “The hardest part of getting ready for the fair is making sure that your projects are show ready. For goats, that means clipping them, teaching them to brace and set up, and ensuring that they are in perfect health. For rabbits, it is working on training their fur every day and achieving weight uniformity for my pen of three.”
Rabbits require daily attention. They need lots of fresh clean water at all times. Exhibitors like Grant check daily for ear mites and work their hair. To best monitor growth, they weigh them every three to four days. Keeping records of weight gain and loss help him maintain uniform weights in her market pen of rabbits.
There are two divisions regarding rabbits: breeding and market. Breeding rabbits are judged on their physical characteristics that can pass positive traits onto their progeny. In the market rabbit division, a pen of three will be evaluated for their carcass traits. Lest we forget, rabbits are indeed meat producing livestock.
Grant’s goal this year? He says, “My biggest goal for this year’s fair is to make the sale with my projects. I have worked hard on getting them ready to show and I hope my hard work pays off.”
And what does he hope he and fellow exhibitors get out of the show? “Sportsmanship.” He clarifies, “As my mom always says, ‘be a humble winner and a gracious loser’. This is a hard lesson to learn, yet it is so important. I hope that all exhibitors, including myself, always demonstrate good sportsmanship.”
His mom, Nickie, states, “Grant started out participating in the county fair as an exhibitor in the Pee Wee Show. From there, he was hooked on getting more involved and becoming an active participant. Over the years, Grant’s involvement in the county fair has helped him become a thoughtful, responsible, and confident young man.” She explains some of the benefits, “The time he has spent working on his projects has taught him time management skills, responsibility, and the importance of a strong work ethic. And lastly, it’s been extremely rewarding to watch him become a much more comfortable public speaker.”
His dad, Trent, adds, “I wish more people understood just how easy it is to get involved in our county fair. For some, it’s traditional livestock projects such has steers, commercial heifers, hogs, lambs, or goats. But for many, it’s rabbits or chickens, arts and crafts, consumer goods such as cakes or cookies, or just volunteering their time helping with our Pee Wee or special needs shows. There’s something for everyone. And, the best part, is watching your child learn, grow, and develop lifelong friendships with other young people from across Angelina County.”
Nickie sums it up, “Our hope is that Grant has an amazing time reconnecting with his 4-H and FFA friends from across the county during the fair. While he may or may not remember 5 years from now how he placed, he will always have these friendships.”
Of the 60 exhibitors entered, only 30 will make the auction. The auction will be at 4 pm, Saturday, March 26. For a complete schedule of this year’s County Fair, go to www.angelinacountyfair.com.
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is email@example.com. To receive a monthly newsletter about local Extension educational events and other offerings, e-mail Angelina-TX@tamu.edu
The members of Texas A&M AgriLife will provide equal opportunities in programs and activities, education, and employment to all persons regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation or gender identity and will strive to achieve full and equal employment opportunity throughout Texas A&M AgriLife.
–Cary W. Sims, Extension Agent
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Angelina County