Poultry, rabbits are a growing category at the fair

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Tori Klitzke checks on her rabbit Tuesday at the 2017 San Juan County Fair at McGee Park in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Fair has provided an opportunity to showcase animals for the past century, but the number of animals shown in each category have changed.

For example, San Juan County Fair Queen Kaylee Madewell, 17, said she has noticed a decrease in the horses at the fair since she started showing about 15 years ago. 

While horses have decreased, the fair board has noticed an increase in small animals, especially poultry and rabbits. 

The rabbits and poultry attract first-year 4-H members like Colton Blanchett, 11, who lives outside of Aztec. Colton showed his rooster, Lincoln. 

He explained that Lincoln got his name "because he's the color of a penny, but penny is a girl name." 

Colton Blanchett looks at a turkey Tuesday in the poultry show at the 2017 San Juan County Fair at McGee Park. Blanchett entered a rooster named Lincoln.

His mother, Debbie Blanchett, encouraged Colton to enter 4-H this year and let him choose between which of their two roosters he wanted to show. 

"We homeschool, so we wanted something that they could participate in and be a community with," Blanchett said. 

Noelani Meador, 13, lives on less than an acre of land in Bloomfield and has been showing animals for five years. This year she showed ducks, horses and goats. Meador said her mother grew up with farm animals and her older siblings also showed animals at the fair.  

Corianna Stock, left, and Heather Thompson clean their rooster's cage Tuesday during the poultry show at the 2017 San Juan County Fair at McGee Park.

Meador said the small amount of land inside Bloomfield creates some unique challenges that children in rural areas don't necessarily face. 

"They have more places to work with their animals," she said. 

For example, Meador said it is important to walk goats. People with lots of land can walk and exercise the goats on their own property. Meador and her siblings walk the goats on roads in their neighborhood. 

Some of the children who start with rabbits or chickens begin showing other animals later. Tori Klitzke, 14, who lives near Farmington, began showing rabbits nine years ago and then added goats to her menagerie.  

Shortie Hunt, left, and Remington Hunt look after their chickens and clean their cages together Tuesday during the poultry show at the 2017 San Juan County Fair.

"I got a few rescue rabbits when I was about eight," she said. 

Now Klitzke has two English lop rabbits she entered in the fair. 

"They're really sweet," she said about the lops. "Maybe a little overly sweet." 

Hannah Grover covers government for the Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.