A pet and dog show Saturday marked the beginning of two weeks of 4-H contests and shows at the Douglas County Fair.
For 14-year-old Bailey Hiersche, this will be her fourth time participating in the fair’s rabbit show. She joined 4-H because a friend of hers was in it, and Hiersche has since had success at the county, state and national levels.
She has won champion in breed two times at the Douglas County Fair, was the reserve champion in breed at the Kansas State Fair and second best overall in breed at the national level.
Hiersche said it feels good to win and that 4-H has taught her responsibility and caring.
“It’s a very good opportunity,” Hiersche said. “It’s fun to do anything. You don’t even have to have animals to be in 4-H. There are all types of things.”
Eleven-year-old Adelai Spears is participating in 4-H entomology and forestry contests. Spears has always had a love of bugs and keeps Madagascar hissing cockroaches as pets. After joining 4-H, she immediately decided she wanted to be a part of the entomology project.
To prepare for the Douglas County Fair, Spears spent a lot of time outside collecting bugs. She then freezes the bugs, identifies them and mounts them in a certain order in a show box.
“I love nature and going out there and searching for plants and bugs,” Spears said.
Piper Hubbell, 13, and younger sister Milena Hubbell, 8, spend their time outdoors preparing for their project, too. Piper and Milena train and show llamas. The Hubbell family has been in the llama contest for five years and owns four llamas. This year Piper and Milena are bringing three llamas to the Douglas County Fair.
The llama division has five classes the two must prepare for: obstacle, pack, public relations, showmanship and costume. The majority of the work is training the llama to run through an obstacle course that includes a teeter-totter, hula hoop and going under a limbo-like stick with streamers.
Piper said llamas can be stubborn and, if he or Milena gets frustrated, the llamas don’t cooperate, so they must be patient.
“If you overreact they’ll do even worse, so what’s challenging is staying calm,” Piper said.
Kim Hubbell, Piper and Milena’s mother, said learning traits like patience and responsibility is what 4-H is all about.
“The relationship they have with the animals reflects future relationships with others and that’s what I feel like 4-H is, that later-life stuff,” she said. “I know my kids are better kids because of it.”