Fair exhibitors put in a year of work

Rabbits, goats, chickens and turkeys were the center of attraction during Monday’s small animal sale at the Washington County Fair.

“It’s my last year at the fair. I’ve been raising rabbits for about seven years now,” said Katelynne Anderson, 18, of Marietta, as she prepared her reserve champion New Zealand white rabbit for the sale Monday afternoon.

She said this was her third reserve champion rabbit.

“You have to work at it,” Anderson said. “Rabbits are a year-long project, and these are raised for their meat. You want them to have a nice, wide loin to get the best price.”

Anderson said she’s never actually eaten rabbit.

“I raise them, but after working with rabbits for a year, I’m not interested in eating one,” she said.

Fellow exhibitor Divinity Neihart, 13, of Marietta had the champion rabbit in this year’s competition. She’s raised rabbits for five years now.

“But this is the first time I’ve had a champion,” she said. “It can be hard work, just keeping them clean and buying their food-rabbit food pellets are expensive.”

Neihart said some of the money she makes from selling her rabbit will be invested in upgraded housing for future animals she intends to raise.

Nine-year-old Keira Knox of Newport had a different plan for the money earned on her New Zealand rabbit Monday.

She said her little sister had inadvertently helped herself to some candy the family was planning to send to Children’s Hospital in Columbus where Keira had once spent six weeks after a bout of meningitis.

“I want to use some of the money to replace that candy for the kids at Children’s Hospital,” Keira said.

Asked about her experience raising rabbits, she said it’s not easy.

“I got a lot of scratches taking them out of their pen,” Keira said.

Twenty-seven pens of rabbits, 93 pens of chickens, 60 goats, and 22 turkeys were in this year’s small animal sale, said Tracy Waite, educator with the local Ohio State University Extension Service office.

“We had a great amount of interest and a lot of buyers for this year’s sale,” she said. “This is the first year we’ve had the sale in the large livestock pavilion, and everyone seemed to be more comfortable there. And the new rabbit and poultry building has worked out very nicely for the fair this year.”

McKenzie Fleeman, 17, of Whipple was keeping a tight rein on her rambunctious Boer goat, “Brutus,” while waiting to show him to potential buyers Monday night.

“It’s pretty challenging to raise a goat,” she said. “I’ve had this one since March. They can be susceptible to some diseases, so you have to keep a close eye on them.”

Fleeman has raised goats for nine years now, and plans to raise them for a couple more years before she’ll be too old to exhibit an animal project at the fair.

“I had a grand champion the first year, but no champions since,” she said. “But I’m planning on putting the money I earn into my college account.”

With some morning rain, Monday’s fair attendance was no record-setter, but it was still better than two years ago when the event was basically washed out due to heavy rains. Saturday has been the best day for attendance so far this year.

“Saturday night the parking lots were overflowing, and we had to open up additional areas for people to park,” said fair board member Richard Henthorn. “But overall the fair has been ‘fair to middlin’ this year.”

He noted the Broken Horn Rodeo was well-attended Sunday night, and the grandstands were filled during Monday’s Northeast Ohio Dukes Hazzard County Stunt Show.

Today is the final day for the 2014 Washington County Fair.

Results

Champion and Reserve Champion winners in the small animal competition at the Washington County Fair included:

Market Rabbits-Champion, Divinity Neihart of Marietta. Reserve Champion, Katelynne Anderson of Marietta.

Market Goats-Champion, Tyler Welch of Little Hocking. Reserve Champion, Jessica White of Lower Salem.

Market Chickens-Champion, Megan Whalin of Stockport. Reserve Champion, Madalyn Treadway of Marietta.

Market Turkeys-Champion, Emma Maddocks of Waterford. Reserve Champion, Holly Becker of Marietta.

Source: Washington County Small Animal Committee