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Even small animals get to strut their stuff, too

March 03, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — While much of the fairgrounds at the Imperial Valley Expo stood silent in the morning hours Friday, the southeast corner was alive with activity as 4-H and FFA members began showing their animals.

This year's California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta started with several rounds of small animal judging as waterfowl, poultry, cavies and rabbits strutted their stuff.

Though cavies, a relative to the guinea pig, appear cute and simple, a lot of work goes into preparing even these small animals for the fair.

The hardest part for many is putting in the time with the animals, said Jacqueline Solorzano, 13, of Brawley.

"But it's actually really cool," she said. "They're fun."

Jacqueline said she spends about an hour a day with Daisy, her cavy, when school work and other commitments don't interfere. Her efforts paid off in the form of a first-place finish in the junior division at Friday's cavy showmanship judging.


Sometimes, though, the hard work may not be enough to win a first-place ribbon.

Jason Williams, 10, of Brawley, said he's been raising animals for "a long time" and hadn't placed lower than third before this year.

"I had my white belt then. I wore my white belt," Jason said.

But this year, Jason sported a green belt, a change he thinks may have been his undoing.

Calling the green belt unlucky, Jason placed sixth in the junior division of the cavy showmanship contest.

His cavy, aptly named Nestle due to its chocolate color, will stay with Jason as a pet, though he said he'll raise a new cavy to enter in next year's fair.

"It's pretty fun. It's a lot of hard work," Jason said.

"When they're little, you have to take them out every day so when they grow up they'll have more confidence in you because they know you so well," Jason added.

Allyn Smithers, 7, of El Centro, knows her rabbit, Oreo, pretty well.

To keep Oreo calm, Allyn demonstrated how she holds Oreo close to her body and "snuggles" the rabbit's head under her arm.

Allyn didn't seem very nervous herself as she stood in front of Oreo's cage in the small animal barn Saturday morning. Even when showing Oreo during the fair, Allyn said she stays calm.

"It's not really scary," Allyn said of the judging.

In fact, Allyn said the best part is showing the rabbit because "everybody's watching you."

In addition to rabbits and cavies, junior waterfowl, poultry, and horses were also judged on showmanship Friday.

Staff writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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