It’s fair time again

SLAYTON – A large number of kids are showcasing their annual projects at the 2013 Murray County Fair, including the participants of the 4-H rabbit show Wednesday in Slayton.

A total of seven different 4-H clubs – Slayton Shooting Stars, Cameron, Currie Poco-a-Poco, Lakers, Prairie Hustlers, Bondin Belfast and Chandler Hilltoppers – were represented during the rabbit show.

“It felt good,” Gracie Roland of Harrisburg (S.D.) said about receiving a purple ribbon for her satin rabbit named Zoey.

Roland, a member of the Prairie Hustlers 4-H club, also showed two more rabbits, Molly and George, along with participating in the photo, fine arts and pet show categories.

“This is my second year,” Roland said. “I think it’s really fun to be in 4-H.”

Kylie and Mckenna Samuelson, who are from the Lake Shetek area, each showed 12 rabbits during the day.

“There are 14 classes,” Kylie Samuelson said. “The judges look at body type. The rabbits have to be compact, like a circle.”

With so many rabbits to present, the Samuelsons enlist the help of friends, including Kailey Wixon of Marshall, Rachel Bruxvoort of Chandler and Tanner and Thad Gunnink of Lake Wilson, to assist them.

“It’s nice to have awesome friends that help,” Kylie Samuelson said.

Samuelson was the junior doe champion, while Nicholas Freese was reserve champion. Mckenna Samuelson won the junior buck and senior buck classes.

“I won both buck classes,” Mckenna Samuelson said. “It felt good.”

Judge Janna Luitjens commended the Samuelson sisters at the conclusion of the senior showmanship competition.

“You two gals did a super job,” Luitjens said.

Kylie Samuelson was awarded grand champion honors, while her sister Mckenna was reserve champion.

Regan Davis of Balaton also showed rabbits, picking up one purple and two blue ribbons. Her younger siblings, Jett, Jaysa and Ryker, also participate in 4-H, making it a family affair.

“I also show dairy (today) and have projects,” Regan Davis said. “I did photography and have a posterboard about milking cows.”

Lakers 4-H member Dylan Swan competed in the rabbit and sheep classes.

“I got a red ribbon because my rabbit was molting so bad,” he said. “They just like to do that at fair time.”

Best friends Rebecca Surprenant of Tracy and Madelyn Wendland of Balaton spent part of Wednesday afternoon looking through a variety of general exhibit projects.

“The best part about the fair is getting to bring my animals here and spend time with them and seeing all the different types of things people bring here,” Surprenant, an eighth-grader, said.

Along with showing her horse and some pigs, Surprenant also had a horse jumps and spider display. For her horse jumps project, she earned grand champion honors.

“You can never have enough horse stuff,” she said.

Wendland, a seventh-grader, was awarded reserve champion for her project on horse facts about internal parasites, noting that she and Surprenant created realistic versions using Breyer horse kits.

“We painted our (display) horses the same color as our own horses,” Wendland said. “We’re pretty nifty with our horse stuff. It took a long time to glue the mane and tail on, though. But it was a fun project to do.”

Wendland said she enjoyed a number of things about the fair.

“I like getting to see my horse and some of my friends,” she said.

Surprenant is scheduled to give a demonstration today on clipping a pig for show.

“We have to clip their hair so you can show off their muscle and leanness,” Surprenant said. “They also look cleaner when you get rid of the old hair.”

While there were many other activities to take in at the fairground, a good number of people funneled in to see the exotic animals at the Cock-A-Doodle Zoo petting zoo. The experience appeared to be as educational as it was entertaining, with interesting creatures like an African porcupine, the world’s largest; a capybara, the world’s largest rodent; two patagonian cary from South America, which are relatives of large rodents; a Bennett wallaby; a muntjac deer, which is only 20-inches tall when they are full grown and a sulcata tortoise from Africa, the third-largest tortoise in the world.

The petting zoo also included goats, pygmy hedgehogs, ring-tail lemurs from Madagascar, an albino skunk, a coatimundi with large canine teeth, a Virginia possum, the only marsupial in North America, and a kinkajou, which is a relative of the raccoon and has a prehensile tail and a long tongue.

“It’s prickly,” Marshall youngster Sophia Gaul said when she and her brother Roman were bravely touching the hedgehogs.