• Comment

Show in Augusta is biggest 4-H rabbit and cavy event in U.S.

Rabbit, cavy show is largest by 4-H Club in nation

Posted: February 3, 2016 - 1:02am  |  Updated: February 3, 2016 - 1:24pm
Back | Next
Judge Travis Finkle and Jennifer Green, a judge in training, try to determine which cavy will be judged Best in Show Saturday at the Augusta Masters of Rabbits and Cavies on the Green Show.   Photo by Steve Crawford
Photo by Steve Crawford
Judge Travis Finkle and Jennifer Green, a judge in training, try to determine which cavy will be judged Best in Show Saturday at the Augusta Masters of Rabbits and Cavies on the Green Show.

 

Derek Poole held the ball of soft fur in his practiced hands, carefully examining its every aspect – length and consistency of the coat, the shape of the body and the broad head and the length and symmetry of the long ears – before making a pronouncement.

“This is my No. 1. That’s an excellent rabbit,” said Poole, referring to the white American fuzzy lops rabbit in one of several cages lining the judge’s table before him.

Poole, 43, was one of several certified American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) judges brought in from across the country to share his expertise at the fifth annual Augusta Masters of Rabbits and Cavies on the Green Show at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion on Saturday.

The event, sponsored by CSRA Rabbit Breeders Association and the Columbia County 4-H Rabbit Club, is the largest regional rabbit show of its kind and the largest such event sponsored by a 4-H Club in the nation, according to Columbia County 4-H Rabbit Club volunteer and show organizer Marguerite Creekmore.

Creekmore said the show has more than 550 rabbits, representing 25 different breeds and also 85 cavies, more commonly known as Guinea pigs, entered in numerous categories throughout the day.

Most of the 4-H Club members entered in the youth category were from Georgia, including clubs in DeKalb and Burke counties, but in the “open” class, which included adults and children, many participants had traveled many miles and long hours for the show.

“We have people from as far away as Michigan, Texas and Florida,” Creekmore said.

Poole was among the out-of-towners. He lives in Rochester, N.Y., where he operates a literacy foundation and an antiques business, but many weekends he is out judging rabbit shows.

“I fly all over the world to judge shows,” he said, explaining that he was one of about 250 certified ARBA judges worldwide whose services are always in demand. “We travel as much as we want to work. I like to do about 20 shows a year.”

Rabbit shows might seem a bit obscure to the uninitiated, but Poole said the number of people who breed and show purebred rabbits is a more than most people realize.

This is his fifth year as a judge, but he has been involved in the world of rabbit shows for 35 years. Each year he tries to make it to the ARBA national convention, which will be held this year in San Diego.

“There will be somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 rabbits there,” he said.

The county 4-H Club held its first small rabbit show in 2011, and since then it has grown into a major event. Savannah Rapids Pavilion was packed wall-to-wall Saturday with all manner of bunnies and cavies stacked in colorful cages, while parents and children weaved through the warren of activity, hauling their pets to the judging table each time a new category was announced over the loudspeakers.

Pam Cox, a 4-H Club parent and volunteer, said the first time she went to a rabbit show she was bowled over by the enormity of the event.

“I thought, ‘What in the world exactly is going on here?’”

She got introduced to rabbit shows when her son Matthew got involved through 4-H. “It’s all his fault,” she joked.

Now, her 12-year-old daughter Rachel is the one competing. Saturday she brought along two cavies and a charcoal gray lionhead rabbit named Daisy, who came away with a first place showing.

The rabbits might have been more numerous, but the cavy owners were no less passionate.

Clarissa Dollar, 12, watched nervously while ARBA judge Travis Finkle and Jennifer Green, who was in training to become a judge, repeatedly examined and discussed their observations on which of 10 different cavies would be judged best of show.

Dollar was rooting for, P.J., a her Teddy cavy with a cream-colored body and jet black head.

“He’s named P.J. because his dad is Pongo, so Pongo Jr.,” she explained.

Minutes later, Clarissa was overwhelmed with joy as P.J. was announced as champion of the day.

The homeschooled seventh-grader from Newnan, Ga., said she is involved in 4-H in Coweta County, but she came to the show as an independent participant.

“My 4-H club will not allow cavies and I am determined to make them accept them,” she said.

Nearby sat Jimmy Crowder, 50, a veteran breeder of cavies and recognized authority at the show. Crowder, of Douglasville, Ga., downplayed his 14 years of experience, however.

“There are some people who have been doing this 30 or 40 years, so at 14 years I’m still new,” he said. “I’m still learning something at every show.”

  • Comment