Steamboat Springs Eight-year-old Collin Krause and his mother, Cassandra, thought they had the perfect costume for his 4-H turkey.
Collin planned to dress as the groom. The mostly black turkey, named Whitey, wearing a white dress that used to belong to his 3-year-old sister Genevieve, would go as the bride.
That was before they found out the jenny turkey was really a jake. The wedding was called off but the show went on, and Collin got to show the cross-dressing bird to the judges at the Routt County Fair's first Dress Your Bunny or Poultry contest.
Collin, who is a 4-H'er with Steamboat's Home-Grown Cloverbuds Club, was one of eight children competing in an event that had young 4-H'ers dressing their animals for showing, not eating.
"I thought it was really neat. It's a new thing," Cassandra Krause said.
The turkey and a chicken named Rosina live in the Krauses' back yard, and the children feed them every day. The animals also get a steady diet of grasshoppers.
The children are too young to compete in the regular 4-H competitions but were able to show their animals in the dress-up contest.
Genevieve Krause showed Rosina, pushing her in a carriage. Both girl and chicken were wearing dresses. Rosina's pink Victorian dress and bonnet previously belonged to a porcelain doll.
Cassandra Krause said the family spent two days trying to figure out what the animals should wear to the pageant.
"We tried on a lot of old clothes and doll-baby clothes," she said.
The Krauses were not the only ones spending time thinking up costumes. Jaelyn Whaley, 7, came up with the idea of dressing as a hillbilly with her bunny Snowball in tow when she went fishing with her dad. The inspiration was a willow-stick fishing pole.
"I asked 'do hillbillies have willow poles?' He said yes. So, I wanted to be a hillbilly," Whaley said.
For the contest, Whaley accented her costume with painted-on freckles, a pair of cut-off overalls with obligatory patches, a straw hat and a fishing carryall that once belonged to her great-grandfather. Inside the basket sat Snowball in a straw hat with a 4-H bandanna tied around his neck.
Whaley tied for first place with Justin Kvols. Each received 10 votes from the audience.
Jaelyn's grandmother Charlotte Whaley said rabbits were a nice way for children to start out in 4-H because they are easy to handle. They are animals that can be raised by children who live in towns as well as those who live in the country.
Many of the young 4-H'ers said they had to feed and water their animals each day and wash and brush them before the competition.
The bunny dress-up contest came after a full day of the 4-H and FAA rabbit show.
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