Last weekend, I made the annual trek, about two and half hours from home, to the Northeast Poultry Congress. I absolutely love to go to this event held each January. Last year, I was allowed to have a table to sell books and this year, I was able to bring my new book How to Speak Chicken and share it with fellow poultry lovers. If you haven’t been to a poultry show, I must share that you should put it on your list of things to do. Poultry shows are family-friendly and allow you to see new breeds and meet people who are passionate about their birds.
The first poultry show in the United States was in 1854, before there were even standards of showing. 1,400 entries were submitted in Boston’s Quincy Market for that event. Because there were no standards and purity of the breeds could not be determined, no winners were declared. They tried again the following year with this time 12,000 entries. Again there was much confusion and no winners were declared. It was out of these first poultry shows, that the industry determined that there needed to be standards and guidelines for judging so winners could be declared. It wasn’t until 1874 that the American Standards of Perfection were adopted and still serve poultry show judges today.
Having attended a variety poultry shows across the county since 2010, I have to tell you that the Northeast Poultry Congress is simply one of my favorites. You may be thinking what can I get out of going? Here are my top 8 reasons to attend a show in your area.
Most are Free– The Northeast Poultry Congress is a free event. There is no charge and it is the perfect way to get out of the cold and check out some amazing birds!
Get to Know New Birds- I am the first to admit that I don’t know every type of chicken that exists. My goodness, there are so many. Even rare breeds make their way to these show. The best part is not only can you see these birds up close and personal, you can connect with the breeder who knows everything you want to know about this type of bird.
Learn Lots of New Things– I believe in life long learning and I have always shied away from being called an expert. Yes, I do know a lot about chickens, but I don’t know everything. I am always learning. When you learn new things from people at the shows, you can always tell they are excited to share with you what they have learned and even some mistakes. They may be the best in the world in regards to a particular breed but you would never know it, most are very humble.
See The Future– Kids are all over the shows. I love to see them walking around with their favorite birds perched on their shoulders, or this little lady, Buttercup- a Buff Orpington, who I met while she stood in line patiently to have her picture taken in the My Pet Chicken Booth. She was so well behaved! At these poultry shows, kids participate in showing birds and showmanship. Breeding and showing chickens brings shy kids out of their shells, helps them develop their public speaking skills, teaches them dedication, respect for animals, responsibility, etiquette, manners, science and what it feels like to work really hard and have it pay off. One little girl that I spoke to won $50. I asked her what she was going to buy, “more chickens!” I guess I asked a dumb question.
Bring Money– You can also shop at these show. At this particular show, there is an entire room dedicated to people selling all sorts of poultry and even bunnies. There are booths selling all sorts of poultry centric wares too. If you connect with breeders prior to the show, they may also bring fertilized eggs or young chickens for you to raise on your own. Many times, it is these connections that lead to people beginning to show their own birds.
See Old Friends and Make New Ones– You will not only meet fellow chicken keepers and breeders. Meet top members of national poultry organizations and judges from across the country. People remember you and they are genuine in their stories and sincere in their greetings. It always feels good to be in a welcoming community.
Witness Lots of Hard Work– A lot of work goes into showing birds and preparing. Birds are immunized when they are young. Prior to the show, lots of preparation goes in ahead of time, from having blood work, a bath and grooming, treatment for any parasites such as worms, assorted mites, lice, to becoming accustomed to being in a small cage for a short time and even quarantined and observed prior to even coming to the shows. Every attempt is made by the breeders to only show healthy birds. I have spoken to folks that pulled out of the show last minute because their birds had issues. These things happen but they all feel responsible to one another and do not wish to cause any harm to any other birds participating in the show. When these show birds go home, they go back into quarantine for some time, just in case.
You’ll Be Inspired– Soon enough you realized that just one day at the poultry show is just too short. Birds begin to fill the winner’s row and ribbons are awarded. For more information, please visit the links below.