By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
A group of young 4-H showmen and -women put their belief that “practice makes perfect” into action on Saturday as they participated in the annual small animal preshow at the UNR Cooperative Extension building in Logandale.
The event was aimed at giving the kids who want to show chickens, rabbits, or dairy goats at the fair a chance to put skills they’ve been learning at their 4H meetings to the test in a show-like atmosphere. A judge was there to see what the kids had mastered and what they need to keep working on in order to do their very best at the Clark County Fair in April.
The event was sponsored by 4-H and the judge was Tony Benell from Mesquite.
Chicken exhibitors went first, followed by rabbit and then dairy goat. Each animal is shown in a slightly different way, so there were short breaks between classes to set up for the next event.
At the fair, exhibitors will be divided into age groups. But due to the smaller numbers at the preshow, all the age groups showed at the same time, participating at an age-appropriate level. This approach worked well not only because it allowed the show to proceed quickly and smoothly, but also because participants were given suggestions for improvement instead of being placed. All showmen received the same prize of goodies and 4-H products for participating.
Showing a small animal takes a considerable amount of work and effort. First, the animals have to be accustomed to being handled so that there are no chickens escaping or bunnies on the loose. They also had to be tame enough that their young partners could turn them and flip them as they showed and explained to the judge about each of their animal’s body parts, such as wings, feet, eyes, ears, and so forth.
Exhibitors had clearly practiced well. They interacted with the judge, answering questions, pointing out parts of their animals, and doing their best to make their animal appear the best it possibly could.
Judge Benell was impressed with their knowledge and professionalism. “I came today for the kids because that’s what this program is about and they did a fantastic job,” he said. “They clearly know their animals and how to show them. I was impressed with their knowledge when I asked them questions and thought they did a fantastic job overall.”
Mavericks 4-H club leader, Scott Adams, explained the purpose of having an event like this. “This gives the kids practice for fair in an atmosphere that is stressful but not too stressful,” Adams said. “It gives them a chance to see what type of things the judge will ask. We go over and over it in class, but sometimes they don’t believe me until they have the chance to actually interact with a judge. It’s great preparation for them.”
The kids seemed to enjoy the experience. Addysen Sherwood, 9, showed a chicken and a dairy goat. This is her third year showing chickens and she also has a meat goat project for the fair. She said she enjoys showing all of her animals. “The show was really fun and I liked the judge because he was really nice,” she said. “ He asked easier questions than my last judge and wasn’t as scary so I really had a fun day.”
Abigail Dreyfus, 13, showed her Mini Lop bunny, Amber, at the event. “Rabbits are great to work with,” she said. “They’re easy to love and great to cuddle with. 4-H helps me learn more about them and how to keep them healthy.”
Madalynn Dobek, 13, also loves showing rabbits. She has been showing for about 2 years and brought her Lion Head rabbit Simba to the show. “I came to get practice in showing so I know I am ready for fair,” she said. “I’m hoping to win a ribbon this year.”
4-H Coordinator Lacey Sproul-Tom was pleased with how the event turned out. “Though our numbers are small today and it’s cold, I’m thankful for everyone who came out and supported us,” Sproul-Tom said. “This is great practice for fair and we’re excited and looking forward to seeing all these kids there.”