Rabbit breeders from around the world converge in Portland for annual convention

Karen Lovett

They came by car, bus, truck, or plane, including enthusiasts from 48 of 50 states and several countries. Rabbit breeders from around the world gathered in Portland for the 92nd annual American Rabbit Breeders Association national convention from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4.

The convention has not been in the northwest since Portland in 1998. Washington hosted the last one in this state in Puyallup, back in 1993. Few venues have enough space to house the cooping, and meeting room requirements for the yearly event.

The Portland Expo Center, with more than 330,000 square feet of exhibition space, was filled to capacity with booths, judging tables and two and three-tiered rows of nearly 15,000 rabbits and cavies.

There were youth competitions for knowledge and judging, an art contest, judge’s conferences for both rabbits and cavies (guinea pigs), and all the specialty club meetings, as well as the ARBA general membership meeting, board meetings and banquets judging. There was a rabbit agility section for the more agile. The convention was packed full of things to do.

RabbitCon VII is a learning symposium covering everything about the industry by top experts, to verything from breeding, to nutrition, anatomy, rabbit reproduction, raw plant diet to showmanship and purchasing rabbits on the internet.

One new breed, the Argente Brun, a silvered chocolate brown commercial rabbit originating from France, passed its third and final showing.

Security was tight. One exhibitor was caught trying to smuggle a rabbit out of the building in a tool box. Another person tried to smuggle a cavy outside under her coat.

Jeff Jewett, an all-breed rabbit judge from Fox Island, was one of three co-superintendents. Jewett raised rabbits most of his life. He gave up the rabbits, but continues to judge after moving to Fox Island with wife Pam.

I first met Jeff and his dad, Bob Jewett, and the other breeders when I started raising rabbits in 1974. Bob and Jeff’s mom Loretta lives on the Key Peninsula on forested land above the beach near Key Center. Bob still comes to local rabbit shows sponsored by West Puget Sound Rabbit Club at Kitsap Fairgrounds.

I have been raising rabbits for 41 years and have been an all-breed rabbit judge for 33 of those years. I took one rabbit with me to the show. My Polish rabbit won best chocolate doe. It was nice to do well with my only entry.

This was one of the best conventions I have ever attended. The only negative aspect for me was the drive to Portland from my hotel seven miles away in Vancouver. Stuck for an hour every weekday morning in the stop and go traffic made me long for my much loved country roads on the Key Peninsula.