Prized poultry finds spotlight at Routt County Fair
HAYDEN — Wednesday was for the birds.
To be more specific, Wednesday was all about the birds and was the day when a judge picked the best of the chickens, ducks and turkeys entered at the Routt County Fair.
The 4-H/FFA poultry show took place in the morning, and the open poultry show was held in the afternoon.
“This is something that the kids that live in town are able to do,” said Roger Muhme, who serves as event superintendent along with Nancy Muhme. “You don’t have to live on a ranch to raise a small animal and enter it in the Routt County Fair.”
Participants in the poultry show came from South Routt, Steamboat Springs and Hayden. Some were kids raised on Yampa Valley ranches and others are growing up in a more urban setting, But all of them had the skills needed to raise and show potential class winners as well as reserve and grand champions.
Ryan Becker learned what it takes to win at the Routt County Fair. He claimed best in class, best standard chicken and grand champion chicken but those accolades didn’t excuse him from cleaning out the chicken’s cage after showing a prize-winning, Light Brahma pullet.
“It took a lot of training for my bird, and working hard,” he said. “This is my first year showing.The best part is that I get to have lots of fun. “
He also didn’t complain as mom and dad stood nearby as he cleaned up the chicken coop.
“I don’t mind,” he said. It’s not too bad.”
Other winners were Trout Alford, champion showman, and Trevor Hagenbuch, reserve grand champion showman. Katelyn Ibarra won best of class in the American class for her New Hampshire red pullet, best of class in English class for her Buff Orpington hen and reserve best of class in the other class. Alyvia Cox, Cossette McLaughlin, Becker, Alley Kvols and Dyllan Spitzley were also best in class winners.
“I’ve been showing chickens now for five years,” said Spitzley, who also earned grand champion honors in the senior showmanship class. “I think they are really cute and fun. I think I like it, because it is fun for me and because they are so cute.”
She said she hasn’t spent a lot of time working with Count Dooku, named after the fictional Star Wars character, that she showed this year. But she admits that her experience showing chickens was helpful.
“For the showmanship contest you have to be super knowledgeable,” she said. “You have to be able to handle the bird with ease.”
Judge Scott Wiebensohn traveled to Steamboat from Fort Collins to judge Wednesday’s events.
“What it comes down to is the animal that has the skeleton and the structure underneath it,” Wiebensohn said. “I’m looking for good muscling and very good overall uniformity throughout, but you also look at the health of the animal. You can see the coloration of the waddle, the coloration of the comb, and I also look for the best feathering.”
Wiebensohn grew up raising small animals and birds on a ranch and continues to show and breed them to this day. He judges because it’s an opportunity to inspire future generations.
“That’s the best part about the majority of the fairs, and the fact that many cities are allowing zoning particularly for chickens,” Wiebensohn said. “It allows children to be a part of 4-H and be a part of the fair.”
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