‘Golden Nugget,’ 4-H newcomer take best in rabbit show | SteamboatToday.com

‘Golden Nugget,’ 4-H newcomer take best in rabbit show

Poppy Wilcox, 9, competed in her first ever 4-H competition Thursday. Wilcox and her rabbit Nugget took home the top prize. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

Nine-year-old Poppy Wilcox had always wanted Guinea pigs and often asked her parents about getting some, but they were reluctant. They compromised by getting a rabbit last year during the pandemic.

A friend of Wilcox’s later suggested she should get involved with 4-H by showing her new bunny, named Nugget, at the Routt County Fair.

Wilcox, who lives with her family in a condo in Steamboat Springs, said she didn’t know much about 4-H before she started practicing a few months ago. On Monday, Wilcox and Nugget competed in their first show.

The first category was showmanship, which is more about what the rabbit handler knows about their bunny, rather than the quality of the animal itself. Wilcox explained the various parts of Nugget — legs, ears, teeth, coat and tail — to judge Randy Anderson.

Taylor Clyncke, 10, shows her rabbit Occo's teeth to judge Randy Anderson during the Routt County Fair's rabbit show on Tuesday. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

Wilcox maneuvered Nugget around, flipping her bunny on its back, handing it to Anderson and answering his questions. Ten-and-a-half-year-old Taylor Clyncke from Yampa was next, showing her bunny, Occo, who was born about four months ago.

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“I love just loving on them so they are used to me,” Clyncke said about how she likes to train her rabbits.

When it came time to hand out ribbons, Wilcox and Nugget won first place and grand champion for showmanship.

“I like it, it is actually very exciting,” Wilcox said after the competition. “I was the one who showed her, but she did a pretty good job of staying still.”

“I’m really happy for (Wilcox),” Clyncke said, who got second in showmanship. “This is my first year so I wasn’t expecting to get anything really high.”

With ribbons in hand, Wilcox and her family started cleaning up Nugget’s cage at the fair. While many of the rabbits are for sale, Nugget is Wilcox’s pet and would go home a winner.

But the competition wasn’t over.

Wilcox raced to grab Nugget before Anderson, who has been judging rabbits for more than 20 years, would assess the rabbits themselves, gauging them by how closely they matched up with their breed.

He poked and prodded, ran his hands over the bunnies’ coats and ears, and flipped them over to inspect their toes, teeth and tail. Anderson meticulously looked at each rabbit and then pointed to Nugget.

“He’s a golden Nugget now,” Anderson said.

First-year 4-H’er Wilcox and Nugget, who Wilcox says she got at Elk River Farm and Fleet in Steamboat, had taken home the 2021 Best in Show award.

Grace George, 14, shows her bunny Precious at the Routt County Fair's Rabbit Show on Thursday. George was the oldest participant and won several ribbons for her rabbits. (Photo by Dylan Anderson)

“I actually was pretty confused,” Wilcox said, about the chaotic scramble that ended with a banner and belt buckle to commemorate her and Nugget’s win. “He is a star bunny.”

Nancy Muhme, who serves as rabbit superintendent for the fair with her husband Roger, said the field of rabbits this year was smaller in part because of a conflict with shooting sports competitions. Nancy wagered that without that conflict, there would have been as many as 30 more rabbits competing.

“I really love to see the little kids get the Best in Show and stuff like that in their first year, it gives them excitement for the next year around,” Nancy said.

Roger said that rabbits are unique because they are an animal that can be raised within a municipality, like Wilcox did with Nugget.

“A small animal project is something someone who lives in town can do and still get the 4-H experience,” Roger said.

Grace George, 14, was the only senior competitor Thursday, sweeping the competitions she entered rabbits into. George said she thought both Wilcox and Clyncke did really well, especially since they are both newcomers.

“I didn’t even do that well my first year, I got last place,” George said. “I think they just did really, really well.”

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