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Keathley, Salyers take rabbit showmanship honors

ROME TOWNSHIP — Showmanship classes are often compared to mini job interviews where candidates — in this case Lawrence County Junior Fair exhibitors — are brought before an interviewer to present their individual strengths and knowledge of a particular animal.

On Wednesday, 91 exhibitors had their “interviews” before fair judge Stacy Easton of Wilmington in their attempt to show why they were most deserving of showmanship honors in the market rabbit class at the 2009 Lawrence County Fair.

For more than six hours in front of a near-capacity Livestock Arena, Easton questioned 10 classes of exhibitors on their evaluations of the animal along with myriad of queries on a wide range of topics about their market rabbits.

Overcast skies and damp morning conditions gave exhibitors and their animals a respite from the heat while standing at tables positioned at the center of the arena waiting to be called.

In the end, Easton selected overall showmanship winners in both the senior and junior class levels. Champion of the senior level was 18-year-old Jessica Keathley of Scottown while taking top honors in the junior level was 13-year-old Jillian Salyers of the Getaway Gogetters 4-H Club.

The senior class level had 38 entrants in four separate classes while the junior class had 53 exhibitors in six class levels.

Keathley, who won a showmanship title for market goats in 2008, said she came into the 2009 market rabbit event prepared and calm.

“It made it a little easier that my rabbit was very still during the time I was in front of the judge,” Keathley said when describing her 7-month-old, Californian rabbit.

With more than a decade of showing under her belt, Keathley hinted that experience did make some difference in her presentation to Easton.

“It is really fun showing different types of animals because you learn a lot from it, like responsibility,” said Keathley, a Symmes Valley graduate who will be attending Marshall University in the fall.

Keathley was also named as the overall champion in breeding rabbit’s showmanship.

For Salyers, winning was just as exciting despite waiting out nearly four hours of judging.

“I’m tired,” Salyers, said immediately after picking up her winners trophy. “It was really worth it. I made a lot of friends while standing in line.”

Salyers attends Grace Christian School in Huntington, W.Va.

One highlight of the event was the tips and suggestions Easton offered each class right before announcing her winning selections and dismissing them. In some instances, Easton gave tutorials on the proper ways to “flip” a rabbit and what judges are looking for.

Class Winners of the 2009 Market Rabbit Showmanship

Senior Class

Class One: Jessica Keathley

Class Two: Brad Lemaster

Class Three: Tyler Shope

Class Four: Evan Salyers

Champion: Jessica Keathley

Junior Class

Class Five: Zachary Hager

Class Six: Jillian Salyers

Class Seven: Joseph Williams

Class Eight: Justin Black

Class Nine: Matthew Burns

Class Ten: Levi Miller

Champion: Jillian Salyers

Rabbit Skillathon Winners

Senior Level

First: Tyler Shope

Second: Michael Morgan

Third: Kristen Estep

Intermediate Level

First: Amber Depriest

Second: Brittany Webb

Third: Irza Bruner

Junior Level

First: Breanna Suiter

Second: Heath Carpenter

Third: Katelyn Ferguson