Where do we begin!
Wow, just WOW! Many cage dealers and vendors! If you need it or have wanted it and don’t see it with your local rabbit show vendor and have the room, now is the time to pick it up! There were supply vendors there that I never even knew existed.
It is a lot to take in and can be very confusing if you have never been to a convention. Fortunately, many rabbit breeders are very good about answering a question if you aren’t sure how something works.
And, every convention is different – usually in small ways, but the clubs that bid on hosting the convention all have a unique way of handling things, but many things are similar. No reason to reinvent the wheel!
So this particular convention did arrival and check-in from Thursday – Saturday at 3 pm.
We decided to leave Friday morning to avoid the Thursday evening hotel bill. We could have left in the middle of the night on Friday night/Saturday morning to arrive in time for Saturday afternoon – but we like to have our rabbits settled into coops and allow them to settle down from the stress of traveling before the show, since it was a 10ish hour drive for us. I also like to leave time for traveling complications, like flat tire, traffic, etc.
Our drive was fairly smooth until we got into Louisville where my GPS decided it was on drugs! It took us into downtown Louisville and we drove around the block several times while I road-raged and said there is no way they are having a national rabbit convention here because they would never be able to park everyone! My phone was dead by this time, so out comes my charging splitter so we can keep the GPS on while we charge the phone to try to search for a new address and/or try to get in touch with someone who can give us an idea of how to get to the right place. It was frustrating – so close, but still so far!
The hosting club and volunteers made check-in very smooth! Cooping was smooth too, until we went to pick up risers from our favorite vendor where there were some communication errors about coop sizes, etc and they had to cut our risers down to fit!
Many of the vendors are super about helping you get things the way you need them to be, so they cut them and all was again well. We picked the ones that needed cut down up Saturday morning when we came back and installed them. I think the only thing that didn’t work was even cut down, the one riser would not fit in the one coop that we had that had a very small door that slid up and down – basically guinea pig size. Thankfully, only one of our coops was that size, but just a note for future conventions to have at least a couple of risers that will fit in those doors.
It was really cool to see so many breeds of rabbits in one place! There were 16,000+ rabbits there. There were almost 400 dwarfs in youth class. There were over 700 dwarfs in the open class.
So, Saturday was still a check-in day for many. We went over to the convention center to feed the rabbits. I believe that is also part of the Rabbit-con – where you can sign up and pay for different conferences they have where they talk all things rabbit. We really scrimped and saved to go to this, so we didn’t do Rabbit-con this year – but one year we may do it at least once. We also didn’t spring for any banquet tickets, so we might do that until another year, depending on cost and what they are serving. This is also where they give awards out, so if you don’t have tickets and you received any awards, you will have to ask a friend to pick up your awards.
I should have wrote each day – but Saturday – I think we just fed, watered and hung out, talking with friends, touring vendors, then off to find some food, which was extremely challenging in Louisville. The prices for fast food were pretty reasonable if you could find a place open. We were starting to think that all of Louisville shuts down between 4-8 pm, even on weekends. When you did find a place – there was an extremely long line/wait. I think we settled for McDonald’s because Friday evening – we didn’t eat anything. So, we decided after heading back to the hotel and freshening up a bit, that it was off to Walmart to buy some food to make for ourselves, because even the hotel breakfast was not really that great.
Sunday was show day, so we were off to the convention center early to just check up on rabbits and do some minor grooming before the show began. Our daughter and many of the youth and open breeders ran rabbits to the show table. We set our expectations low. A mentor of hers said she watches youth who have done well get discouraged with convention because they go hoping to win everything. She told her – top 10 is awesome at a national show and top 5 is amazing. So, she had around 3 top 5’s and around 2ish top 10’s. Her Black Otter buck who has been consistently winning Best of Breed and sometimes Best in Show – was 4th out of 39 senior bucks. And she took Best Junior Chestnut and Best Junior Agouti. She was pleased. We were tired, but somehow, she had the energy to bring a friend back to the hotel to swim. I cooked burgers at the hotel.
Monday morning there is the dwarf auction where breeders can put rabbits in the auction and set what percent of that to donate to the ANDRC club. Rabbits went anywhere from $200 to $3,600 this year. Just before the auction, you can go up and pose the rabbits and see the pedigrees. So we watched the auction and then off to the walking bridge, Church Hill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum.
Tuesday morning – there are a lot of things going on – there are new color exhibets and we were interested to see how the foxes and the lutino’s went, so we watched that for a little bit, fed, watered and did some wondering around. Then we decided to get as much of our stuff out to the car to be ready for Wednesday morning checkout as we could. Secured the cages and off to the Louisville Zoo.
Wednesday morning – we were up and at it early. I believe 5 am – so that we could try to get to the convention center for their 6 am opening. We split to try to get more accomplished. So I went to pick up her exit packet, she went to the rabbits to start loading them into carriers. I got the exit packet and we were off to working together on collecting our bowls, water bottles and risers. Carry that stuff out and into the line we go.
It is hard to see – but there is another room that is this big where the checkout line begins and then it winds down the length of this building down the one aisle, up the other aisle on the other side almost the length of the building, then across and over into the 3rd aisle with carts of rabbit carriers stacked high. The checkout volunteers had the line moving pretty well. It was funny though – at one point, this guy wondered across in front of us asking where the end of the line was and he kind of stopped and almost steered his cart like he was just going to get in line there and we were looking at each other and then he continued wandering to find the end of the line, but the guy behind us was like, “oh man -was just waiting to see what he was going to do” and I said, “yeah – I was thinking – there is about to be a throw down and I’m pretty sure I have back up!”
We made it to check out and got the car packed and secured and went back in to say goodbye to a friend who we saw arrive as we were checking out and on the road at 10 am! We hit the West Virginia line around 1 pm.
Hit Maryland around 4:20 and PA around 6ish. Hit home at 8:45. And that is pretty much a wrap on the highlights. I am sure there are details I missed and I will be posting some blog posts about the zoo and the derby museum for my homeschoolers.
So, the 2023 ARBA convention will be at the exact same location. So, watch for my post about tips and our notes for future years that may be able to help you be better prepared for your first year at a convention if you are into showing rabbits.
Have you been to an ARBA convention – and if so – do you have advice for readers?