MIAMI COUNTY — For the Coffey family of West Milton, raising rabbits for 4-H is a family affair.
Audrey, 17, will be a senior at Milton-Union High School and is a student at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center in the health occupation field. Ian, 12, will be a seventh grade student at Milton-Union Middle School, and Alexa, 9, will be in fourth grade at Milton Union Elementary.
The Coffey trio can be found in the rabbit barn this year, exhibiting their meat pen rabbits, as well as breed specific rabbits such as the mini Rex. They are members of the Hare Raisers 4-H Club.
Their grandparents, Mike and Sandy Spilizewski, continue to serve as the club’s advisers, which now include their grandchildren as club members.
The Coffey children’s parents are Nick and Stasi Coffey of West Milton.
Their mother, Stasi, raised rabbits and showed lambs at the Miami County Fair and has passed along the tradition to her children. Stasi shared how she got her whole family started in the rabbit barn when she received a bunny as an Easter present when she was nine years-old.
“My mom was friends with someone who had a 4-H club so we thought we’d might as well do this, and we kind of dove in from there,” Stasi said. Stasi said her kids picked up the 4-H tradition by showing rabbits, as well as other projects over the years. As Audrey is winding down her 4-H experience, Alexa will finally get to show her own project after years of watching her siblings from the sidelines. Audrey will also exhibit a market goat for the first time at the fair.
“I wanted to try something different,” she said.
The Coffeys also completed several projects such as archery, shooting skills and photography as part of their 4-H projects.
In her grandparents barn in Elizabeth Township, Alexa counted 42 rabbits, not including new born babies.
Audrey explained the differences between meat rabbits and breed rabbits. Meat rabbit breeds include New Zealand and Californian breeds. They can be shown in pens of three or as a single. They are judged on their meat quality, and their general weight is between three and five pounds each. Earlier in her 4-H career, Audrey exhibited a grand champion single fryer and was able to participate in the Sale of Champions.
“That was pretty exciting,” she said.
Ian said his favorite part of 4-H is showing at the fair. He said fair time is usually when rabbits begin to molt or shed their fur. Ian explained how they simply spray their fur with water to keep the fur from “flying.”
Alexa will be showing her breed rabbit “Dixie” at this year’s fair.
“She’s a Netherland dwarf,” she said. Alexa said she and Dixie will dress up at for the rabbit barn’s costume contest on Wednesday morning. Alexa plans on dressing up as the “Big Bad Wolf,” and Dixie will be one of the three little pigs.
“It’s all about the kids having fun,” Sandy said.
There are several competitions rabbit exhibitors can participate at the Miami County Fair including Jr. Fair Market Rabbits, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, followed by the rabbit knowledge test; an open rabbit show at 9 a.m. on Sunday, and Jr. Fair rabbit showmanship at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening. The rabbit exhibitors will wrap up the week with a costume contest at 11 a.m. Wednesday to show off their creativity and their rabbits one more time.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org
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