DORCHESTER — For the Krause family, the Taylor County Fair is truly a family affair. Each year, Sam, Bailey, Jack and Olivia work to get their projects, which range from rabbits to artwork, ready.
“They all started in 4-H when they were in kindergarten and have been showing at the Taylor County Fair ever since they could,” said their mother, Katie. Students are eligible to start showing when they are in third grade, so the Krause family has been involved in the show ring for many years, with the two oldest children, Sam and Bailey, entering their senior year of high school this fall.
Katie, who works to organize the rabbit show each year as the show’s superintendent, said the family found that rabbits were a good fit for them.
“Since we live in town, we can’t really show the bigger animals like cows or sheep, so we decided to raise rabbits. They are quiet and don’t take up a lot of space,” Bailey said.
Although the family lives in Clark County, they are members of the Liberty 4-H Club of Taylor County. They choose to show at the Taylor County Fair because it is a lot closer for them than the Clark County Fair.
The family has become skilled in showing rabbits over the years but said it has been a learning experience for everyone.
“When we started, I knew nothing about rabbits. I have learned right along with the kids,” Katie said.
Katie has served as the rabbit show superintendent for the past six years and said each year the show’s numbers as a whole fluctuate, with this year’s show estimated to have 75 rabbits. She took over the role after the previous person decided to step down and thought Katie would be a good fit because of her family’s involvement with the show.
In addition to the fair, the family tries to show their rabbits at three or four other shows throughout the year. Although rabbits are relatively easy to care for, showing them can be more complex.
Bailey said they use the Standard of Perfection book for rabbits.
“It shows what the ideal rabbit (for that breed) is and what the judges are looking for in that rabbit,” Bailey said. This can be a challenge, according to younger sister Olivia, as you have to look at all the different characteristics of the rabbit from the size of their ears to the coloring of their fur.
In addition, each breed of rabbit has a specific pose that should be used when showing. The Standard of Perfection book shows a picture to help.
“The closer you are to the standard, the better your rabbits will do at the show,” Bailey said.
Family members agree that showmanship is their favorite part of the whole process. During showmanship, judges ask the exhibitors questions about the breed and the animals in general to gauge their knowledge on the subject.
“My kids study and work hard at (knowing their animals). I’m really proud that they shine at that and it makes me proud of their accomplishments,” Katie said.
The Krauses have traditionally done very well at showmanship at the fair and are working hard to maintain that this year. Bailey has also been asked to teach showmanship in Rusk County, allowing her not only to share her passion for the animals but also showcase her leadership skills.
Katie said the fair is usually a time for the family to spend together, showcasing their hard work and experiencing the other aspects of the fair. Jack and Sam both said they like the food at the fair, especially from the 4-H stand, which the family works at every year on the Friday of the fair.
In addition to their rabbit project, the family has taken dogs to the fair and both Bailey and Jack have had interesting experiences with this project.
To participate in the dog show, students and their dogs must attend dog obedience and agility classes in advance of the fair. One year, Bailey decided to take her aunt’s dog to the fair. During the classes, the dog was good at agility, but not so good on the obedience side. However, when they got to the fair, the dog did fine at obedience, but during the agility part decided to lie down in the middle of one of the tunnels.
“You can’t touch any of the equipment or you get docked points and I couldn’t reach the leash so (the dog) just laid there for a while,” Bailey said.
Jack had a similar experience when he took the family’s dog to the fair. The dog did well in the classes and in the practices, but when the time came for the show it was a different story.
“He saw people and he loves people and thought they were all there for him. He loved it, but didn’t do very good,” Jack said.
This year, the children will also be taking multiple other projects to the fair. Olivia will be taking artwork and a hat she made to the fair, while Sam will be taking a large wooden mug he made in school. They all will likely take photography, too.
Katie said she is happy with the experiences 4-H has offered the children.
“4-H is an amazing opportunity for the kids,” Katie said, going on to say it has taught her children leadership skills, how to organize meetings and decision making among other things. Katie said she would be involved with the organization for a while yet, with another younger child, Max, excited to get his own projects someday.
Bailey also said she would like to stay involved in the future, eventually becoming a judge and maybe even a 4-H leader.
The Taylor County Fair will be Aug. 3-6 in Medford, with free admission and parking. The rabbit show is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 4. Other events this year include horse gymkhana classes, a waffle breakfast, a demolition derby and bingo. A full list of events can be found at http://www.witaylorcountyfair.com.