“It feels great,” the sixth-grade North Miami student said through a huge smile. “I thought I would get a blue ribbon, but I didn’t think I would win.”
It was a pretty high achievement for Richards, who said this is only her second year participating in the poultry competition.
In fact, she beat out 17-year-old 4-H veteran Matthew Jelenek for the grand champion title. Jelenek said he’s been doing the poultry competition for eight years.
He’s won the grand champion waterfowl title in the past, he said, and judge Studebaker gave his pilgrim geese high praise this year, saying the two birds were the best he’s seen outside of a major competition.
But it was Richards’ Welsh harlequin ducks that ultimately won Studebaker’s heart.
“They’ve really got it going on,” he said. “They’re showing me exactly what I want to see.”
Jelenek’s geese ended up winning reserve grand champion, and the Maconaquah High School student didn’t seem too fazed by the runner-up position. He said he plans to stick with the poultry competition for two more years.
“I’ve got to finish it through,” he said.
Pete Jones, who supervised the poultry competition, said he likes this 4-H contest in particular because it allows every kid to show an animal at the fair. Unlike cattle or pigs, students don’t need a lot of time, money or space to raise a healthy hen or chicken.
“You don’t have to be a farm kid or anything like that to do this,” he said. “This is something anybody can do, even if they live in town. It lets them come out here and show them, sell them and make a little money.”
That’s what Richards said she plans to do with her prize-winning ducks. Jones said most poultry bring in between $50 and $75, depending on how generous the bidders feel.