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Rabbits rule at the fair | News, Sports, Jobs

Staff photo / Raymond L. Smith Noah Morris of Champion, right, examines his pet rabbit, Buck, in front of Judge Cara Dannemiller during the Junior Fair rabbit showmanship competition Friday at the 175th Annual Trumbull County Fair.

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BAZETTA — For most of the 4-H contestants crammed inside the small tent by the sale barn at the Trumbull County Fair, the furry, long-eared and long-legged animals they were showcasing Friday afternoon are not just cuddly pets, but part of their families.

Erica Shockey, 12, loves her rabbit, Thumper, whose name is the same as the Disney rabbit from “Bambi.”

“I love rabbits,” Erica said. “They are small and like to be hugged. They also are one of a few animals I’m not allergic to. I’ve had 10 rabbits. I’m trying to downsize.”

She has owned rabbits for at least half of her life.

“I’ve read to them as I was learning to read,” she said. “They’re really smart animals.”

Erica and the other contestants were required to tell judges how they care for the animal’s physical and emotional health.

“We must know everything about the breed of rabbit we have,” she said.

Thirty-two families brought their rabbits to be judged at tables for a total of 47 rabbits at the Junior Fair Rabbit Showmanship event during the 175th annual Trumbull County Fair on Friday.

Chelsea Mealy said the number of people participating in the rabbit competition has grown over the last several years.

Kaitlyn Benton, 12, of Cortland, spent the afternoon showcasing her 3-year-old rabbit, Nosy Sausage.

“I’ve had 10 rabbits,” Kaitlyn said. “I love them because they are cuddly and they let you do just about anything to them.”

Kaitlyn was given Nosy Sausage by her grandmother.

Although rabbits hold a special place in Kaitlyn’s heart, she also has other pets, including goats, chickens, dogs, cats and a bearded lizard.

For 18-year-old Madigan Nolan of Champion, this showcase with her rabbit, Chad, is the second-to-the-last she will be able to do as a contestant. She is a veteran of these competitions.

“They want you to have knowledge of your rabbit and tell them how you care for them,” she said. “They want you and the rabbit to have good appearances.”

Chad, who is 1 1/2 years old, is a Mini Rex, class four rabbit, which is among the smaller breeds. Mini Rexes tend to live long lives, normally 10 to 15 years.

Noah Morris of Champion brought Buck, 6, one of his two rabbits, to the competition. He said he thought he did well.

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