Long Island Rabbit Breeders Show: Bunnies in Bethpage

LI-RBA welcomes you to the LI Rabbit Show!

LI-RBA welcomes you to the LI Rabbit Show!

On a sunny day in April, in a little town called Bethpage, at the edge of Nassau County in Long Island, I headed to the grounds of the Old Bethpage Restoration Village, a outdoor ethnographic museum that showcases old relics from Long Island’s colonial past.  A popular attraction for families and children on field trips, but on this day, the grounds of this colonial village would be home to something far different.  You might say the occupants would be “all ears!”

Warren in a Barn

Warren in a Barn

Inside a big barn, I was treated to a wonderful sight: bunnies, bunnies, and more bunnies!  No, this wasn’t Su’s Warren or ANZ Stadium, it was the 27th annual Long Island Rabbit Breeders Show.  On the surface, it is a place for people who raise rabbits, both professionally as breeders and those for companionship.  In addition, it is also a competitive environment where breeders and pet-owners alike go toe-to-toe, or rather paw-to-paw in an attempt to win prizes, like trophies, ribbons, and gift baskets.  Think of it as a your typical dog show, only cuter!  And with less pretense and less regalia.  And you don’t have to worry about perfectly coiffed canines dropping a dookie on the astroturf.  Like dog shows, rabbit shows have their own vocabulary.  The male rabbits are “bucks” and the females are “does”–the same terms used for deers–and babies are referred to as “kits” (many breeders refer to the term “bunnies” when describing a baby rabbit).  But the dog show similarities end there.  Unlike the prestigious Westminister, there is no “ring”.  Although many of the bunny breeds are paraded in front of the judges’ table, and the event ends in best-in-show judging, it may be more comparable to a cat show, to say the least.

"Meet the Breeders!"

“Meet the Breeders!”

"And the award for fluffiest bunny belly goes to..."

“And the award for fluffiest bunny belly goes to…”

While the show may be a local event, breeders from all over the tri-state area and New England came in numbers to show off their lovable lapines to the adoring public.  There are about 25 sanctioned breeds according to the American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) like Flemish giant (my favorite breed), French lop, Dutch lop, English lop, Himalayan, Californian, etc.

"And the award for the best bunny goes to..."

“And the award for the best bunny goes to…”

For me, I was here for two reasons: the first reason was to give some very needed publicity to my beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs.  Knowing that this festival would be about bunnies, I figured it would be the ideal place to set up shop and try bring some Americans into the Burrow.  Thinking like a salesman, and knowing where to go where the action is, I brought along a totebag filled with my Souths gear, and some rabbit-related reading material.  I set up a makeshift stall with an empty table, a folding chair, and a homemade Rabbitohs poster.  It may not have looked the most professional, but I have to believe that if the red and green faithful were there to see it, Reggie would be most proud!  Throughout the morning, I posed for photos with little kids and parents who seemed so intrigued by a sports team represented by a bunny.  They assumed that I was a breeder who was dressed for the occasion with my Rabbitohs shirt on.  Though I didn’t convince anyone to register as a fan online, I think I made a couple of kids happy there.  Like I said, Reggie would be proud!

"Come and meet the American Rabbitoh!"

“Come and meet the American Rabbitoh!”

"A few new future members of the Rabbitohs!"

“A few new future members of the Rabbitohs!”

"Because everbody loves Reggie!"

“Because everbody loves Reggie!”

The second reason I was there was because my friend Su was there with her breeds.  And that meant one thing only: her Flemish giant, Reggie, was gonna be there!  Sure enough, there he was in all his fluffy glory.  When I wasn’t managing my Souths stand, I was there to help Su show off her prized beauties.  Although I was not a rabbit owner, let alone a professional breeder, I had done my homework on the ins and outs of Flemishes.  Without hesitation, I picked up Reggie, and began pounding the show’s floor, showing off Reggie like a dog owner at Westminister.  I didn’t just hold Reggie, I was practically cuddling him for almost two hours!  He was so cute, and so calm around so many showgoers.  I just relished seeing the surprised, almost jaw-dropping looks on people when they saw just how HUGE he was in my arms!  I wasn’t too confident, however,  about letting them hold Reggie, as I was unsure of his behavior around strangers; I managed to earn his trust.  Still, they were practically clamoring for a photo with me and my furry friend.  Or rather, Su’s friend, if you must.

"Reggie: Best in Show!"

“Reggie: Best in Show!”

"Reggie: Most Huggable in Show!"

“Reggie: Most Huggable in Show!”

"Reggie: Most Snuggly in Show!"

“Reggie: Most Snuggly in Show!”

Knowing that my arms couldn’t take much more of Reggie’s weight, I managed to undo a folding chair and take a seat with Reggie, thus relieving my arms a bit.  My arms felt SO sore!  But it didn’t matter, because it was a small price to pay for spending time with my favorite four-legged friend!  After taking a seat with him, I still managed to draw a lot of attention; I was almost inadvertently bogarting the attention meant for the breeders like Su!  While I watched the judging take place across the barn, I just relaxed for a bit with Reggie in my arms.  I couldn’t stop staring into that sweet face of his!  The way his nose twitched and the way his eyes grew was so hypnotic.  And by the way, I do not care if this sounds mushy; I was having such a great time!

The Rabbitoh and the Rabbit

The Rabbitoh and the Rabbit

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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3 Responses to Long Island Rabbit Breeders Show: Bunnies in Bethpage

  1. Paul Condon says:

    Always an informative and interesting write up Jared. No doubting your a die hard supporter of the bunnies, glory glory! Awesome rabbit mate….

  2. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Jared, what a great write-up. If I wasn’t so allergic to bunnies I think I could be seen hanging out with them. Reggie is absolutely adorable and I can see the love between you. The barn is a beautiful building. Sounds like you had a great day. See you very soon! XO Mrs B

  3. Carol Doukas says:

    You are a great writer Jared. We all enjoyed having you at our rabbit show and the public enjoyed hearing about your Rabbitohs. Thank you for helping to promote the rabbit industry.

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