BROOKSVILLE — Megan Mulvihill, a member of the Jolly Ranchers 4-H Club, has the Hernando County Fair in her genes.
Her grandmother, Frances Bath, a 4-H Club food leader, brought a cake all the way from Lakeland to enter in this year's fair. Megan's mother, Nancy Lilley, showed dairy cattle when she was young.
Megan, 10, is carrying on the tradition with a showing this week of three mini rex rabbits. It's her first county fair experience, but she participated in the recent Florida State Fair. She's also showing a market hog in the junior livestock show here. A beef steer is being raised to show at the 2009 fair.
The youngster's rabbit entries are Ruby, Daisy and Duke. No question of which is Ruby: The snowy white missy with the ruby red eyes. Daisy is described as a broken black and white, meaning spotted. Duke is an all-black buck.
All three won blue ribbons at the state fair. "The judge liked their fur quality," said Megan, noting that the breed is also known as velveteen.
Megan cares for three other adult rabbits and 12 baby cottontails — not really sure of the numbers, she admits — at the family's Lilley Hill Rabbitry outside Brooksville. She said she always wanted rabbits.
Likewise for 8-year-old Tiffany Undestad of Spring Hill, a Cloverbud member of Bits, Bridles and Beyond 4-H Club of Brooksville. She brought Willie, a short-haired mini lop, white and tan in color to her first fair competition.
"I like that they're playful," she said of the rabbits. "We have a little playpen for them." The playpen sits on the grass, where her rabbits can nibble, and it's big enough for Tiffany to get in with them.
As for competition, Tiffany said, a rabbit must be well-behaved, exhibit the form of its variety and be well-groomed.
Exhibitor of a dwarf Hotot, Cody Goldstein, 14, of Spring Hill agreed. He also mentioned calmness of the animal and cleanliness. After the fair, he'll breed his black-furred rabbit because he wants to make money.
A young rabbit of show quality sells for about $15, Cody said. A breeding dam can fetch $30.
For youngsters and their parents bent on small-animal production but without the space to do so, Tiffany's parents, Jenna and Terry Undestad, have leased a small property in Spring Hill for the animals' keeping. Other parents contributed to fix it up, Jenna Undestad said.
Additional information on small animals is available from the Hernando County Cooperative Extension Service, (352) 754-4433.
Beth Gray can be contacted at gray