A recent visit to a breeders showcase, however, provided a shining example of how one organization, the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), celebrates its heritage, protects its interests, and encourages the participation of breeders and exhibitors, both young and young at heart. ARBA (not to be confused with the American Rare Breeds Association) held its 90th annual convention last October at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pa. The expansive facility, a popular site for many local all-breed dog shows, seemed both familiar and novel during my visit. Leporine (Latin for "rabbit”) shows, I can safely say, are at once reminiscent of and vastly different from most contemporary canine exhibitions in the US today.
The rabbits I saw filled me with a sense of awe, certainly, but even more amazing was the number of young people in attendance at this show. Teens and tweens were everywhere. At first I thought that the hundreds of kids milling about were school students on a field trip or a Sunday school outing. I quickly realized, however, that most of the youngsters were actually exhibitors with their rabbits entered at the show! In fact, it seemed that every rabbit at the convention had been entered by someone under 18 years of age.
Every kid competing at ARBA events needs a solid foundation in order to succeed, and experienced breed mentors play a critical role in the lives of young rabbit enthusiasts, just as they do in the dog sport. At the convention, a healthy interaction of adults and children was evident throughout the Farm Show Complex.