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SilverStar Polish Rabbitry

ARBA, 4H, and Fair Shows, & Youth Contests.

ARBA vs. 4H shows, and Fairs, and Youth Contests

You bought a rabbit, and want to show it. But, what are shows like? What kind of shows are there? What classes are there to enter?

There are basically three types of shows, ARBA sanctioned shows, non-ARBA sanctioned shows, and fair shows. At all of these rabbits shows there are basic breed classes, the real "showing" part of it. But at some, there are additional contests, usually only for youth (under 19).

What ARBA sanctioned means is that the club hosting the show is an ARBA chartered club, and has applied to the ARBA to sanction its show. This sanction entitles and requires the club to hire ARBA licensed judges, to be governed by the ARBA show rules, to award Grand Champion legs, to sanctioned the show with other ARBA chartered clubs, and to make a report of the show to the ARBA, the exhibitors, and the other clubs that sanction the show. This report is usually used to determine sweepstakes points by the club that has sanctioned the show. (Note: ARBA does not have a sweepstakes program.)

At an ARBA sanctioned show, the judges are often more qualified than a 4H, being tested and licensed by the ARBA. The competition is stiffer, because these are the shows that matter to those striving to get to the top in their breed. They are larger than 4H shows, and are open to anyone. ARBA sanctioned shows usually sanction both youth and open. And if you win (and meet certain criteria) at an ARBA show, your rabbit will be awarded a leg toward its Grand Championship status. ARBA sanctioned shows are required to have judges judge by the ARBA published Standard of Perfection.

There are two kinds of ARBA shows: All breed shows and specialty shows. Specialty shows take entries for only one breed (or in the case of lops and angoras, 2 or 4 breeds.) All breed shows are required to allow all breeds of rabbits recognized by the ARBA to be shown.

A 4H or FFA show is not sanctioned by the ARBA or any other club. It is usually hosted by an area 4H club and is often quite a bit smaller than an ARBA show. For this reason, even a BOB win at a 4H show is not as prestigious as a win at an ARBA show. While most 4H shows do judge by the Standard of Perfection, I don't believe that this is a requirement. 4H shows may give awards to as many or as few breeds as they like, and no sweepstakes points are accumulated at 4H shows. No legs can be awarded. 4H shows are youth-only shows. There are however, several advantages that 4H shows have to offer. There is less competition and politics at a 4H show, and it can be a chance for new exhibitors to learn to show and maybe win without having to compete against the "big-timers". If you are helping to organize a show, a 4H show is much easier because you have no reports to send out and no sanctions to obtain. And... entry fees are usually lower than at an ARBA sanctioned show! But if you are a youth and enjoy other competitions in addition to breed classes, 4H shows have a huge advantage over ARBA shows in that they usually host showmanship (and occasionally other) competitions, while ARBA shows do not.

Fair shows may be ARBA sanctioned, but are usually not. Even if they are sanctioned with the ARBA, they are exempt from certain rules. Fairs may limit the exhibitors to those who live in a certain area, may limit the number of entries per exhibitor, or per exhibitor per class, and may combine any breeds or classes together for showing. Fair judges may or may not be ARBA licensed judges. At a fair the rabbits are kept on the ground for as long as the fair lasts, although showing may only be one day. Fairs may be 4H fairs, and limit exhibitors to youth 4H members. They may have open and youth competition together, or may have two shows, one for youth and one for open. Fair shows occasionally do not select a Best in Show rabbit, but pick a Best Fancy (4 class) and Best Commercial (6 Class) that do not compete for BIS.

Fairs in many cases have other contests available for youth such as showmanship, breed identification, judging, or royalty.

What are these youth contests mentioned?

Showmanship: Showmanship is sometimes denoted "4H Showmanship" because primarily only 4H and fair shows host contests. In this contest, participants are judged on their ability to handle, examine, and pose their rabbit safely and correctly. The rabbit's condition, responsiveness and cooperation, and the exhibitor's appearance factor into scoring. Exhibitors will be asked some questions to judge their knowledge of their breed and rabbits in general. The exact routine for doing showmanship varies from area to area. In some counties or states participants are required to preform the steps in a certain order, where in other places it does not matter when they are done as long as they are correct. Showmanship attire requirements is generally a nice, white, long-sleeve shirt or show coat, black pants or skirt, dark dress shoes, long hair tied back, and no jewelry, not even earrings. Showmanship is a very popular competition, being fun and challenging. With so many things factoring into the score, it takes much study and practice. Your rabbit should be familiar with the routine and know how to SIT STILL!!!

Judging: Judging is a competition that is often done at fairs. The ARBA holds youth judging contests each year at its national convention and show. Judging competitions are sometimes held at other shows too. In this contest, contestants need to place a class of 4 animals in a time limit, often 5 or 7 minutes. This class may be a breed class, a meat class, a commercial fur class, or a breed fur/wool class. Contestants usually need to place 2-4 classes and the winner is judged on the combined score. At the ARBA national contests, no comments are given on the animals by the exhibitors, scoring is on placing only. But at other shows, contestants may be required to state their reasons for their placements, using correct terminology and should be dressed like for showmanship. At the ARBA national level, 4-member team judging contests are held.

Breed Identification: When doing Breed ID, youth are in a room with 25-50 rabbits and sometimes cavies. All animals are in numbered carriers. Participants walk down the line, writing information about each animal on a contest blank. This information always includes the breed, but the rest varies from competition to competition. In ARBA breed ID contests, not only the breed but the registration variety, showroom variety and class (4 or 6) is required. In 4H competitions, often a variety is asked for, or may act as a tiebreaker. When required to write registration and showroom varieties, this somewhat becomes a memory game, as the same colors are called several different names in different breeds. Like with judging, team contests are held at the ARBA national convention.

Acheivement and Management: These two contests held at the ARBA national convention are mail-in application contests, and participants do not need to be present at the convention to win. Acheivement is scored on the youth's accomplishments, winnings, leadership, and goals in thier rabbit project. Management is based on how the youth manages thier rabbitry, and asks about breeding practices, feeding, sanitiation and health, genetics, results, profit, and record-keeping.

Royalty: Royalty is a combination of them all. Royalty contestants usually participate in jugding and breed identification contests, complete a detailed application, and are interviewed. Royalty is a hard challenge, but is rewarding. Royalty encourages youth to study, to learn, and to develop skills that will benifit them both in their rabbit project and in other areas. Royalty is often held at the state and county level, and the ARBA holds a national royalty contest each year.

There are other various competitions, such as educational or display contests, quiz bowls, "skill-a-thons" etc. However the ones outlined above are the more common.

If you are a youth and have not checked out any youth contests, I encourage you to do so! I know from experience how extremely fun and rewarding they are!