JULY 29, 2010

Fair Feathers

By Jeanne Hood

   First came the egg, now we have chickens. Actually, this discussion encompasses all aviary entries. Taking time to read and understand how to prepare birds for the fair will help insure a good showing.

   At the Clearwater County Fair, exhibitors are only allowed one entry per lot per person. That still leaves a possible 150 entries per person if you raised all the different types of poultry and game birds. Most of us don’t.

   The important things to remember are selection, cleanliness, uniformity, and care. Select your birds at least two weeks prior to the fair. Put several birds in a clean comfortable cage for observation. Chose the most uniform birds and return the rest to the yard. These birds should be similar in size and color according to their breed.

   They should not have crooked or deformed beaks or abnormal wing formation or feathers. The tail should be centered, have a full display of feathers, and not project over the birds back (called Squirrel Tail).

   The comb must be consistent to the breed. Single comb breeds may not have side sprigs, No split combs. Except for Mediterranean or New Hampshire females, the comb may not to lopped over or hanging to one side.

   Clean leg breeds cannot have feather stubs on the legs or between the toes. Birds must not have any color that if foreign to the breed on the legs, toes, quills, primary or secondary feathers. In other words, no black on a white chicken and no red or yellow in a black variety. Any of the above will be grounds for disqualification.

   As with all fair entries, cleanliness may be the difference between a blue ribbon and a white one. Birds should be washed in mild dish detergent and lukewarm water, washing downward from the base to the tips of the feathers. Rinse, twice, in lukewarm water to be sure all soap residue is removed and pat dry. A hairdryer on warm, not hot, setting is handy to dry the feathers. If a dryer isn’t practical, place the bird in a clean, wire bottom, cage with clean straw to dry naturally. Keep the birds out of drafts until they are dry. You may gently apply a thin coat or Vaseline or mineral oil to the comb, shanks, and toes. This whole process will be easier if your birds are used to being handled.

   It takes practice to remove a bird from and cage and return it without damaging the feathers. According to the 4-H Guide for Selecting and Preparing Birds for Exhibition you should:

   Reach into the cage and turn the bird so its head faces the door. Place your right hand on the birds back and grasp the left wing. Pull the bird towards the door—head first. Place the left hand under the breast, grasp the right wing and remove the bird from the cage. Examine the bird while keeping balanced on the left hand, or keep the right hand on the birds back and over the wings when moving the bird. When returning the bird to the cage, put it in headfirst.

   Bring birds to the fair in clean cages and keep them clean during the activities. Don’t overcrowd the birds and be sure to fasten an exhibitors tag to the cage.

    I’ll bet you thought exhibitors just stuffed those birds in a cage and hauled them down to the fairgrounds. I know I did!

   Just a reminder for 4-H parents, Cloverbuds do not have to bring their birds to the fair or participate in the Fitting and Showing contest, but we encourage them to do so. It’s great practice for when they are full-fledged 4-Her’s.

   All that work and I still like my birds, best, one way - fried!

New exhibit tags

   The Clearwater County Fair is getting closer and the Fair Board continues to work on repairs, painting, and improvements.

   Since it was time to reorder exhibit tags the Fair board has elected to color-code the tags for open class exhibits by age and group. This will make it easier for the superintendents to locate items that will be judged together. The tags will have the age or group printed on the top section. The tags will be as follows:

   Pink - 7 and under, Yellow - 8 to 12, Blue - 13 to 17, White - 18 to 64, Green - 65 and older, Cream-challenged, and Orange-professionals. White cards will also be used in areas that have no age or group distinction, such as Canning and Agriculture, and all booth exhibits.  Age divisions have been standardized throughout the other departments.

   If you pick up tags at the Extension Office, be sure to get the appropriate color for you and your family.

   There are additional categories in Computer Enhanced Photography, and jalapeno peppers will be separated into ‘regular’ and ‘extra large’.

   This year 4-H judging will begin at 9 am on Thursday, Sept. 16. The Exhibit Building will be closed to the public during judging. An exception will be made for those having interviews with Jeff Jones and KLER in the front section of the building. The exhibit build will reopen to the public at noon.

   It has come to our attention that some of you may not be aware that we have room for Open Class exhibits in the barn on a ‘space available’ basis. We encourage people to enter their animals and would enjoy seeing some of the more unusual animals, such as yaks, burros, emus, peacocks, oxen, and llamas.

   To enter your open class animals please call Marie or Tami at the Extension Office, 476-4434, or Jeanne, 476-3516 for the name of the appropriate superintendent.

   We still have a few booths available for rent at very affordable prices. Call Cynthia, 476-3224, to reserve one for yourself, a business, church group, political organizations, special interest displays, and youth organizations. The fair theme, A Treasure Chest of Our County’s Best, must be a part of the booth display if you wish the booth to be judged.

   Make plans now to attend the Clearwater County Fair and Orofino Logging Show, Sept. 16-19 at the Orofino City Park. There’s something for everyone!