I left the ARBA National Convention Show in Louisville, Kentucky, Wednesday morning – super excited for my hobby. I came to the show with two rabbits and left with five. New core rabbit math. Here are my first timer observations:

Saturday morning arrived, I and paid $10 for parking. I drove around the convention center till I spotted where it looked like several people were entering the building. No signage for directions, not a great introduction. Went in and found my exhibitor number and received my check-in package, paid $30 for a parking pass for the rest of the show. It came in handy as my wife was able to explore and come back and get me without having to pay for parking each time. Walked into the convention center and was floored by the setup: rows and rows of coops on each side of the floor with show tables set up down the middle. Breed signs were hung over the rows showing where the different breeds were located. I found Silver Fox halfway down the right-hand side. My rabbits were assigned a coop number telling where to house my rabbit. Coops are stacked two high and are roughly 24 by 24, solid floor. The doors either slid up and down or opened from the side; took a minute to figure that out. Shavings are provided, and covered the bottom of the coop. There is a tag stapled to the front of the coop with your rabbit’s information, but for the rest of the event, my rabbit is identified by their coop number, 10 and 24. Bring water and food dishes, consider your rabbit is there till Wednesday. Learned what a riser is: a riser is a false wire floor you have to install in your coop to lift your rabbits off the shavings, if you want. For Silver Fox, I don’t see the need, but for my Jersey Wooly, I will use them to keep the wool clean. Rest of the afternoon I attended some RabbitCon lectures, not spending the money for that going forward. RabbitCon starts Friday and since I arrived Saturday afternoon, I got to attend three topics, and wasn’t impressed.

Sunday is the day of the Open and Youth show. This is where coop number comes into play: when it is your rabbits turn, a ticket is provided to a runner with the coop number to bring to the table. The coop number is what the judge refers to when evaluating the rabbit. I guess it is so the judge doesn’t know who the rabbit belongs to. The coop number is supposed to be written in the right ear. When it wasn’t the judge would look away and the writer would verify the rabbit to the paperwork by tattoo. 125 Blacks, 11 Senior Bucks, 14 Senior Does, 23 Inter Bucks, 23 Inter Does, 26 Junior Bucks, 28 Junior Does. I placed 6th in Senior Bucks and 5th in Senior Does, with very young Seniors, two days over eight months old.  Very efficient process of handling rabbits. I unfortunately missed the BOB/BOS judging as I was bringing up rabbits for fur class. Miscommunication won’t happen next time. Went and watched Cavy judging and noted that even though they had coop numbers, the judges referred to the ear tag, and the owner of the cavy was usually the one who brought their cavy to the table. Congratulations to Margret Funk on her BOB Senior Buck and BOS Intermediate Doe wins, couldn’t wait for BIS on Monday. Walked around the showroom a to watch some of the other breed judging and explore the Specialty group booths that were set up around the perimeter of the room. Rest of day spent shopping.

Monday, business meeting and BIS day. Meeting started at 0830 and scheduled for one and half hours, so next group could use our room for their meeting. This was the first meeting the group has had in two years, and there was a lot to talk about. I was pleased by the amount of passion the members exhibited in the various discussions. This is where I cannot keep quiet. I spoke often and expressed my feelings on the status of the group, especially concerned about the lack of Treasure report or the BOD not knowing the status of our account. At the 90-minute point when it was time to close the meeting, I recommended coming back later in the day, because we weren’t done with items that needed to be discussed. We came back together at 1 that afternoon and had another good discussion. I am excited with the changes being made in the leadership, new Treasurer, new newsletter group, new website group, asking for the resignation of the Secretary (they offered), so we will have a new Secretary taking over. Went and watched the BIS judging after our meeting, this was setup in the civic center portion of the convention center. Four tables set up with the rabbits divided into four groups. There were two large screens above the judging area so we could better see the judging. Dedications were read, then the judges were introduced. Judges are selected by vote, so, neat process.  Each group judge selects a best of group. More dedications, then the BIS judge is introduced.  BIS is selected from the group winners, unfortunately Silver Fox didn’t win. Youth followed by Open. About an hour total, well worth the time. In my opinion this was the best organized portion of the show.  After the BIS we went to dinner at a Mexican BBQ restaurant. I think everyone came out to dinner. It was a good time.

Tuesday, COD presentations and first ever Rare Breed BIS selection. Had a great seat to watch the Rare Breed for Youth and Open. Good showing, unfortunately Silver Fox wasn’t selected. Due to RHD, Chocolates were judged virtually, and passed their third showing. Blues were shown as exhibition only. Rest of the day I spent at the booth collecting money for the silent auction winners. I was impressed that all 25 winners came back to the table for their item. At the end of the day went to a Brazilian Steak house for dinner with my lovely wife.

Wednesday morning, pack up and leave day. Got to the showroom at 9:30 and the line of people leaving made two laps around the floor. Each rabbit must be inspected at exit to ensure you are leaving with your bunnies. I didn’t bring a cart because I am stupid. So, picking up a carrier taking two steps, setting down the carrier got old real fast. I did have offers to place my carrier on another stack, but I wasn’t comfortable walking past thirty people with my carrier. An hour and a half later I was packed up and on the road.

Final thoughts: Bring a cart. Bring a cooler for drinks, four dollars a bottle of soda was not fun. On Sunday I noticed another group brought in Pizzas for lunch. We did a blind auction, should we do a raffle instead? Requires manning the table more, but with coordination can be pulled off. We had a rabbit auction, not well advertised. If we are auctioning a rabbit, it needs to be advertised. Have a picture taking area. Have a banquet? We went to dinner, which was fun, but the idea of a Silver Fox Banquet where awards can be given sounds fun.

Next year in Reno, hope they have fun. 2023 back in Louisville for the 100th ARBA Convention. I will definitely be there to win BOB and then first ever BIS for Silver Fox. I will also be supporting the Blue Silver Fox first presentation towards the acceptance of the COD.

*Written by Michael Petersen, GSFRB Treasurer

*the opinions & viewpoints expressed in this article are personal and do not reflect those of GSFRB