Peterson wins champion roaster rabbit at state fair

Tess Nelson
The Red Oak Express

A first-year exhibitor at the Iowa State Fair, from Stanton, brought home an armful of awards in the rabbit show.
Ella Peterson, the daughter of Bob and Kimberly Peterson, and a first-year member of the Stanton FFA Chapter, won reserve grand champion Best of Show, reserve grand champion overall market rabbit, champion roaster, champion roaster pen of 3 and fifth place in rabbit showmanship, where she received a belt buckle.
“I was very surprised to have done so well at the state fair,” said Peterson. “When the judge named my rabbits as champions in their class and reserve grand champions overall, I could not believe it.”
She continued to say the state fair was intimidating at first, but when she started to show her rabbits, her focus was on the rabbit and she became more comfortable.
“I was fortunate that the California White breed was the breed to show. My first rabbit was my roaster, which has to weigh between 5.5 – 9 pounds. This roaster was the reserve grand champion roaster and reserve grand champion best of show.”
To show a rabbit, Peterson said one must first get the rabbit to the judging table. She said it is important that one carries the rabbit by tucking its head under your arm, while supporting its body between your side and your same arm.
“The rabbit’s eyes should be covered by your elbow and you need to support the hindquarters with your free hand. Once you get your rabbit to the table, the judge will set it. They look for alignment of the rabbit, are the feet tucked and the hindquarters parallel. The judge will determine which rabbit is the best based off of its loin, shoulders, hindquarters, fur quality and overall health of the rabbit,” Peterson explained.
Peterson said she started preparing her rabbits for the state fair about a month and a half before a show. The first few weeks, to train the hair, she will get a little water on her hands and run them across the rabbit from head to tail, then comb it out to remove the dead fur.
“After a few weeks, I comb through their fur from head to tail without dampening the fur. This helps in keeping the fur tight and shiny,” she said. “Weekly I work with my rabbits to get them used to the proper pose the judge will set them in. I also keep my rabbits toe nails trimmed because they are very sharp. It will keep me safer as a handler and little kids or adults who want to hold and pet them safer. I also check their teeth, nostrils and eyes for any signs of infection or disease.”
Peterson exhibited the California White breed of rabbit. She explained
California White’s are known for their dark or black markings that make them stand out from other white breeds.  They were originally bred for their fur and meat production in the early 1920’s.
“When it came time for me to be able to show rabbits, I went with the California White breed also since I was comfortable with them and our breeder Julie Wolf specializes in that breed,”
Peterson said she plans on showing at the state fair next year, too, as well as the Montgomery County Fair.
 While at the state fair, Peterson also volunteered to serve as a FFA usher. As an usher, she is at the fair the day before the fair starts until the last grandstand event. She even lived on the fairgrounds at the Youth Inn.
“During the fair we are assigned different events at the fair to work. I worked at the gates handing out programs, assisted with livestock shows, and helped in any FFA event that needed help. At night, every FFA Usher walks to the grandstand together,” Peterson said. “We are the ushers for every grandstand ticketed event so I was at every concert every night.
Being a FFA Usher has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. I learned to live with other students I did not know, meet lots of new people, made some great friends, and experienced things at the State Fair that I did not know about.”
Peterson said she’d like to not only thank her parents, but also her FFA Advisor Mrs. Spencer and Julie Wolfe, who she purchased her rabbits from.

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