At 10 am on Wednesday, March 24 at the Angelina County Fair, the breeding and market rabbit show kicks off. That day, Chloe Murray, a senior at Hudson High, will compete in her last county fair.
Chloe has been a part of the Angelina County Fair since she was 5, competing in the Pee-Wee Family and Consumer Science competition.
An estimated 150 rabbits from 50 families will take part in the 2021 market rabbit competition. The show sponsor is PID Services, Inc.
There are two divisions regarding rabbits: breeding and market. Breeding rabbits are judged on their physical characteristics that can pass positive traits onto their progeny. In the market rabbit division, a pen of three will be evaluated for their carcass traits.
Lest we forget, rabbits are meat producing livestock. Can anyone say “hasenpfeffer”? That is the name of a traditional German stew made from rabbit.
“I originally choose to start showing rabbits because I wanted to somehow get into showing animals projects. So, my aunt gave me 3 old market rabbits that I could raise into breeding rabbits,” says Chloe. “Little did I know I would fall in love with the rabbit project and never move onto bigger livestock projects. I simply developed and expanded my original breeding stock.”
Her best memory from the Fair was over an award she received in the 2018 Fair in the showmanship competition where the competition focuses on the exhibitor’s knowledge, rather than the quality of the animal. The judge completed his individual presentations from each showman but announced it had come to a tie!
The showman left standing in the tie was Chloe and another girl that she had lost to the previous year. The judge explained that he simply could not choose between us based only on our presentations, so we would move on to face-to-face questioning and the first to answer incorrectly would lose.
Chloe shares the moment, “My competitor and I stood in front of the judge with a group of onlookers huddled around us and answered 4 rounds of questions, both correct. The judge, baffled by our knowledge, said he was going to have to use his official handbook to pull questions from, which he had never done in his 40-year career. After 4 more rounds, my competitor went blank, I answered, and was handed a beautiful buckle as my reward. That buckle means more to me than any other award I have received in life, because I know that went into winning it.”
She is no slouch at studying. Chloe is ranked in the top 10% of her graduating class, taking dual credit classes through Angelina College, and is a part of the Pharmacy Technician Certification program. Additionally, she holds the following officer positions: Blue Ribbon 4-H Club Vice President, Angelina
County Council Vice President, President of the Hudson FFA Chapter, a second-year member of the National Honor Society, and Hudson Student Council Vice President.
She has been a member of the Angelina County 4-H program for ten years and a member of Hudson FFA for four years. In addition to showing rabbits, Chloe will also compete in the Public Speaking, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Arts & Crafts competitions.
Each market rabbit exhibitor will show three rabbits as one entry. Like deer, male rabbits are called bucks and females are does. Within the breeding rabbit division, there will be a champion buck and champion doe. Breeding rabbits are not included in the auction on Saturday.
Chloe said her hardest time was this past year. “I have had stray dogs tear into my rabbit barn on multiple occasions and savagely kill some of my rabbits and terrorized the others. It was extremely difficult for me to clean the barn afterwards, dispose of the dead animals, and see the fear that was instilled in the living.”
Rabbits require daily attention. They need lots of fresh clean water at all times. Exhibitors like Chloe check daily for ear mites and work their hair. To best monitor growth, they weigh them every three to four days. Keeping records of weight gain and loss help her maintain uniform weights in her market pen of rabbits.
Chloe is the daughter of Melanie and Christopher Murray, has an older sister Dovie, and is the proud aunt of Clayton. She credits her parents as her biggest supporters.
Her mom, Melanie, says the best part of them participating the county fair is the memories made and life lessons they have learned. An added bonus is the meat that will go into the family freezer.
The auction will be at 4 pm, Saturday, March 27. For a complete schedule of this year’s County Fair, go to www.angelinacountyfair.com.