I would like to mention that this will be a pretty long (may not be the best as I cope with Jet Lag) post as I recollect my memories and experience at the 88th ARBA Convention held in Indianapolis, Indiana USA. As most of you have seen in my previous postings, I really had a blast and it was a dream come true for me.
I started out my journey to Indianapolis in the afternoon of 27th October 2011 at 2.30 pm. I arrived at Taipei International Airport for a transit and soon I was on the plane heading to Los Angeles, USA. There was a little delay in between Taipei and Los Angeles and that caused me to miss my direct flight into Indianapolis. I got a little panicky for missing that flight but was fortunate to get a replacement flight. I was stranded at LAX airport from 10 pm until 5.30 am when I boarded the plane to Detroit. It was the longest flight and at this point I was getting really tired from staying up at the airport. I then took an hour flight from Detroit to Indianapolis. I was scheduled to arrive at Indianapolis at 5.30 am on Friday 28th October and because I missed the flight, I finally arrived at Indy at 3.30 pm.
Momma Cheri and Aunt Karen came to pick me up from Indianapolis airport and boy was I excited to see them. My tiredness vanished and I finally found myself being very energetic. Asked if I wanted to freshen up at the hotel, I quickly said no and we were on our way to the show room.
When I arrive at Indy, I was greeted by the most beautiful Autumn or more fondly known as Fall by the locals. The journey to the show room took a little while and I cannot help but to notice all the beautiful buildings. The trees were covered with yellowish leaves which was a clear indicator that it was the Fall season. The temperature was just nice for me as I enjoyed the cool breeze.
Looking at the buildings and surroundings, it does feel like I am in the movie while being here.
The moment I step out of the car, it feels as though my soul has found its home.
Since judging only begins on Sunday morning, the show room was a little empty because most breeders will only arrive on Saturday. The South Pavilion entrance leads us into the youth show room and the open show room was further into the building.
And since the show coops were pretty empty, I did not go round taking photos of rabbits but instead hang out with my friends most of the time. I was so happy to finally be able to meet everyone in person.
First thing Saturday morning, I took my camera and went around both the Open and Youth Show Room to capture photos of all the rabbit breeds.
I started off from the Chekered Giant and Belgian Hare sections
I always thought that the New Zealand breed only comes in white color but there were many other varieties as well:
At this point I was pretty much exhausted going through every aisle of rabbits in the Open Section so I decided to snap the Youth Show Room in sections instead of focusing on just one rabbit at a time.
The amazing thing about Convention is that, you will never find a breed without breeders. That’s what makes the Convention so special because you get to see many breeds under one roof. How I wish we have all these breeds in Malaysia.
On show day (Sunday), I could feel the intensity of the competition as all exhibitors/breeders crossed their fingers hoping to place well with their rabbits. I really enjoyed watching all the judges go through the rabbits and cutting the numbers down to top 10s. After the top 10s has been identified, the atmosphere gets more tensed and after the Best of Breeds are picked, there was a huge sigh of relief from all around.
After all the Best Of Breeds has been identified, everyone adjourned to the Pepsi Coliseum for the group and Best In Show judging. In the Open, a White New Zealand was awarded Best In Show while in Youth, a Holland Lop once again was picked as Best In Show.
At every ARBA convention, the breed presentation is held to pass new colors to existing breeds or passing the new breeds. Unfortunately for the Lionhead, its presentation did not pass this time around.
My last evening at Indy was spent at the wonderful HLRSC Banquet where awards were given out to all who has placed Top 10.
The artist who did all these awards is Emily Hromi from Ohio.
And this year I have the pleasure not only to attend the banquet but also to donate a Holland Lop painting for the Auction. The highest bid was USD 750 and it was an unforgettable moment for me when the winner of the bid presented the painting to a fellow breeder – the breeder of the rabbit in the painting.
And then the day I dread arrived as quickly as how my journey started. It was an emotional farewell for me and I carry with me all the wonderful moments I shared with so many amazing people. I am still in awe by the fact that I was at this place where all the best in the USA gathers. Just imagine the big names in the hobby that I have heard of before this, I am able to put a face to all of them. And the best part is, we get to finally meet each other in person!
As I mentioned in my earlier post, I did not know what to expect with this trip and I definitely did not expect to be bawling like a baby. I did not expect such amazing hospitality. I was not only accepted as just a friend but as a part of a big bunny family. I will cherish all these wonderful people that I have met in my heart as each and everyone has earned a part of my heart. I certainly did not expect to miss everyone so badly but I really did. It was indeed a week where I need not explain to anyone why I love rabbits.
I have also learned so much during the entire week and I hope that I will be able to share what I have learned back home. I do have some plans that I would like to present and dreams to be fulfilled back home. I hope to get the MROA up and running so that we can have those visions achieved. Besides from the technical lessons on how to raise quality rabbits, most of what I have learned are life lessons and humility is definitely the one most important lesson that I have learned. You really have to respect a winner that goes, “We did very well, thank you!”. That’s sheer humility and that is what you will get from the Best Of Breed winner!
Last but not least, I must also thank the people that are most easily taken for granted – my family. My gratitude goes to my wife who has been maintaining our household single handed. She is my pillar of strength and her support means the world to me. I would also like to thank my parents and especially my dad for helping me with bunny chores. Yes, that man that paints those beautiful portraits actually helps me with cleaning my rabbit cages while I am away.