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State Fair Poultry Competitions Still Taking Place, But Not With Birds

Flickr / slappytheseal
Chicken at 2009 Iowa State Fair.

For the first time since 1904 poultry will not be shown at the Iowa State Fair, so bird competitors have altered the century-old traditions in preparation for  festivities that start Thursday.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship announced back in May that it's too risky to have so many birds in such close proximity in light of avian flu ravaging poultry facilities across Iowa and the nation earlier this year.

Mindy Williamson of the Iowa State Fair says poultry enthusiasts will still have a chance to shine with egg-cooking and knowledge, showmanship competitions.

"They’ll still be testing as far as how they feed the birds, and how they take care of the birds. And different parts, the anatomy of the birds. They just won’t actually have real birds there," says Williamson. "I know some of our county fairs in Iowa used some fake birds to demonstrate. And that may taking place at the state fair as well."

And while the pigeon rolling competition won't be held this year, fans of the genus Columbidae can still have fun.

"Our pigeon group has been super creative," says Williamson. "They are going a people's choice contest where the exhibitors can actually submit photos of their birds. And then fairgoers will be able to vote and choose which one would be awarded a fancy, rare, utility, flying, those are the catagories."

The Iowa Turkey Federation and Iowa Poultry Association both recommended the  bird exhibitions be canceled this year due to avian influenza.