Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
By Shelley Grieshop
Fair small animals projects big fun
  WAPAKONETA - Nathan Rindler sat unruffled next to his bird cage as his junior fair competitors calmed yelping dogs and chased a runaway guinea pig.
An occasional "tweet" was all the 10-year-old New Bremen boy had to contend with from his parakeet "Rebo" as he waited for the 4-H small animal show judging to begin Tuesday afternoon at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.
"I'd like to train it how to talk," he said. I'm trying to get it more tame ... but when it gets out, it gets crazy."
The 2-month-old bird, layered in green and yellow feathers, seemed oblivious to the noise of other animals in the junior fair building.
Judge Leslie Winner, a veterinarian from Minster, spent at least 10 minutes with each of the dozen or so contestants. She quizzed them about their animal's care and assessed the youngsters on poise and presentation.
Erin Stetler, 17, of St. Marys, wrapped her half papillon, half Japanese chin pup in her arms most of the time to keep the beady-eyed canine tranquil. The fluffy, white dog with brown spots will celebrate its first birthday Aug. 12, she said.
"I've had Sam since January. He knows how to sit, lay down and dance," she said, showing off his talents to nearby spectators prior to judging.
Stetler said she always wanted to enter the small dog contest at the fair but her former pet didn't quite fit the bill.
"My other dog was a little bigger and a lot rowdier. He was a chocolate lab," she said with a smile.
Catching everyone's eye was Morgen Parlett, who entered the room with a large aquarium and three snakes. The 17-year-old New Bremen youth kept most people at a distance as he wrapped a 5-foot-7-inch black corn snake around his neck.
"Yoda will go around my neck and slither all over the place," said Parlett, a member of the Buckeye Hustlers 4-H Club. "Sometimes I let him go up my sleeve and out my (collar)."
Parlett said he got the snake about a year ago from a school teacher. He loves to watch it eat mice, he said.
"Yoda strikes at them. I guess it still has that instinct to prey on food even though the mice are frozen," he said.
Parlett also brought along much smaller brown and albino corn snakes.
"I call them my kids," he said very matter-of-factly. "I play with them every day."
He also "tortures" his siblings with them, he admitted. His younger sister quickly confirmed the statement.
"Sometimes I turn around and one of the snakes is right there in my face," his 11-year-old sister, Mariah, said.
Morgen Parlett impressed the judge as much as the crowd. He was awarded the top prize in the "self-determined" competition.
Also earning a top honor in the "You and your dog" division was Morgan Henschen, a member of the Moulton Lucky Livestock Raisers 4-H Club.
Additional online stories for this date
Print edition only stories for this date
• Four vehicles set on fire
• County welcomes funds for airport
• Fair schedule for tonight, Thursday
• Woman seeks to carve out successful business venture
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