The rabbit’s out of the hat

By on September 12, 2012

By: MICHELLE REIFF Review Staff, Staff Writer

Visitors may stop over and see the rabbits on display this week at the Denver Fair. Shown are (left to right) show judge Art Sweinheart, best in show winner Madison Shaw and reserve in show winner Elizabeth Galliger with their rabbits and judge Bob Kolb. (Photo by Stan Hall)

It all started with a 10-year-old-girl and one rabbit.

Janet Fasnacht of Denver was accompanying her daughter, Miranda, as she began showing her pet in Lebanon County back in 1999. When Miranda and another youngster, Coleen Hutchinson of Ephrata, could not find anywhere else local to exhibit, Janet stepped in and decided to bring the rabbit show to Lancaster County. Janet came to the Denver Fair and Coleen’s mother, Connie, the Ephrata Fair.

And the rest was history.

Now, more than a decade later, Janet, along with Miranda, now 24, continue to do be highly involved in one of the Denver Fair’s "best kept secrets." That is, undiscovered to many visitors who have yet to realize that the treasure, which unveiled Monday, is on display the entire week of the fair.

The chair of the Denver Fair rabbit show for many years, Janet is also a 4-H Club leader. She continues to see the growth of the show and its exhibitors, which is comprised of 80 to 90 percent children.

"Sometimes I say my 4-H kids never leave," she chuckles. "When they’re bitten by the showing bug they just continue."

The display attracts exhibitors from as far as Harrisburg simply, said Janet, because they enjoy showing.

Every year contestants bring their rabbits on Monday of fair week. They are judged that evening by the standards of the American Rabbit Breeders Association on "how close they are to the standards of perfection." Breeds include angoras, Flemish giant rabbits and some rare ones, like silver foxes.

Anyone is welcome to enter a rabbit in the show as long as it is healthy and all the proper health papers are completed.

The event, which began its first year with five rabbits, has grown to 200 and has had to go from one to multiple judges. Miranda, who spent many years exhibiting, decided to try her hand serving as judge this year. The other judges were Bob Kolb and Art Sweinheart.

This year the top awards went to Madison Shaw, who won best in show with her satin angora, and Elizabether Galliger, who took reserve in show with her mini rex.

Although the entrants are extremely important in any exposition, Janet also attributes a lot of the rabbit show’s increased success to the work that goes on behind the scenes.

"Earl Nussbaum (co-chair) and my husband Roy help me set up the show and tear it down," said Janet. They are also behind the scenes helping me and I appreciate them so much."

Janet also receives assistance from sponsors, such as her employer, Dr. Marianne Fracica of Cocalico Cat & Gingham Dog Animal Hospital, which shows rabbits and helps buy the trophies; Cocalico Vision, contributor of ribbons; and Gehmans Feed Mill, Schaffers Cages and Ephrata Agway, which donates prizes. These sponsors also make monetary contributions for judges.

Anyone interested in showing rabbits who is age eight to 18 is welcome to attend a meeting of the Rags to Rabbits 4-H Club on the first Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Cocalico Vision Center. More RABBIT, page A10

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