Dyllan Spitzley was all smiles as she held Sadie the large rabbit at the Routt County Fair. Spitzley was named grand champion in the junior rabbit showmanship competition.

Photo by Scott Franz

Dyllan Spitzley was all smiles as she held Sadie the large rabbit at the Routt County Fair. Spitzley was named grand champion in the junior rabbit showmanship competition.

At Routt County Fair, rabbits draw a crowd

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— Dyllan Spitzley didn't want to have to say a tearful goodbye to her beloved animal like many other children do at the Routt County Fair every year.

So instead of raising a cow or a chicken or any other animal that would join a dinner menu, the 11-year-old decided to raise a giant rabbit.

"She'll be able to spend her whole life with me," Dyllan said of Sadie as the 16-pound rabbit clung to her shoulder.

Sadie is a giant chinchilla, and Dyllan said its the second largest breed of rabbit in the world.

For her extensive knowledge of her rabbit, Dyllan was named the grand champion in the junior rabbit showmanship competition Thursday at the fair.

As she carried the rabbit around to adoring fans, other children were hovering over a nearby set of cages as a judge inspected each rabbit.

A big book contained the guidelines for a very scientific scoring system for each breed.

Judge Nate Crozier has been grading rabbits now for 30 years.

"It's fun to be with the kids," he said.

The barn grew largely silent except for the clucking and pecking of chickens as Crozier announced the start of the big event.

About a dozen rabbits would enter the best of show competition, and only two would bring glory to their owners who have spent many months raising them.

A big round of applause broke out when Crozier named Kelly Turner's Silver Martin rabbit as the best in the whole barn.

"It was just amazing," Kelly, 9, said after she received the giant banner and belt buckle that came with winning best in show. "It just blew my mind."

Thursday was a learning experience for both the children and their families. It followed months of hard work on the part of the children to raise and learn about the rabbits.

"It's been an everyday thing," Kelly's grandmother Lorraine Johnson said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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