Rabbit Show Secretaries, Superintendents, Judges — And You!

Whose Job at a Rabbit Show?

by Laurie Stroupe.

There are many “jobs” at a rabbit show. I use the term loosely because few people at a rabbit show are actually paid money. We’re all there because of our passion for rabbits. Still, we take our jobs seriously and most of us try to do a very good job. Here’s what I think of each of the jobs.

Rabbit Judges

judges working holland lops at 2007 arba national convention

Judges evaluating Holland Lop show rabbits at the ARBA national convention

People often think of rabbit judges as being very highly paid. Forget that notion. I don’t know anyone who could live on their judging fees. I’m sure it’s a nice addition to some family budgets, but if these judges only wanted to supplement family incomes, they could do other things that are much more lucrative and take a much smaller bite out of their lives. No, judges judge mostly because of their passion. Consider what they make (not what the club spends) and then consider how long they are away from home, wear and tear on their cars, the time they spend in training, miscellaneous expenses like postage, license fees, advertising, their pre-inked stamp even, buying new SOPs every time they leave one behind, and so forth.

You may be surprised to see me write this, but a judges job is to judge. It is not the judge’s job to establish the pace of the show, enforce every ARBA rule, deal with unruliness, or even eject a sick rabbit from the showroom. We often look at them as representatives from ARBA. While that thought is not 100% wrong, we would be better off to think of them as independent, licensed contractors who were hired to do one particular thing.

Note: good judges have many choices about where to judge. Make sure that good judges have a good time at your shows if you want him or her back!

Show Superintendent

This is the person who is responsible for the pace of the show, who ejects sick animals, and deals with the unruly exhibitors. He or she doesn’t get one red cent, but gets all of the tough jobs and all of the flack. Too few people remember to thank their superintendent. No, not all supers are created equal. Some are just learning. A few are stuck in their ways. But by and large, rabbit exhibitors owe a lot to show superintendents. And when you find a really good one, value how fortunate that rabbit community is.


Show Secretary

This is the person who does so much work behind closed doors, both before and after the show – that we fail to truly appreciate him or her. Data entry, problem resolution (with records), and the most hectic start to the show of anyone there are the defining features of a show secretary. Too often, because the show secretary is the most salient member of the show management, the show secretary also has problem laid at his or her feet that should go to the show superintendent. Have you hugged your show secretary lately? They deserve it!

ARBA Licensed Registrar

ARBA licensed registrar weighing holland lop rabbit

ARBA licensed registrar weighing holland lop rabbit

[Editor’s note:  A rabbit registrar is an individual licensed by the American Rabbit Breeders Association to examine rabbits’ and their pedigrees and file official registration with the ARBA.  Registration costs $6.00. Your rabbit does not need to be registered with the ARBA to be shown, however it is an official show rule that a licensed registrar be available at every ARBA sanctioned show.  Visit our page on registering rabbits for more information.]

Here’s one near and dear to my heart since I will be serving as the registrar at my first show tomorrow. Registrars rake in the money, pulling down $6 for just a few minutes’ work, right? Wrong. I personally will have to register about 350 rabbits just to recoup what I have spent so far – and that doesn’t take into account the many hours of studying I did. Sure, I decided to go to a costly academy to help me learn more quickly, but every registrar has expenses and has invested a lot of him- or herself into becoming one.

Most judges I know will not register rabbits anymore (every judge is also a registrar). If it were such as sweet deal, they’d all be doing it still. But it’s not. It’s a lot of work for $3 gross profit minus postage, license, envelopes, and the cost of scales, tattoo ink, special “R” tattoo die, and more (it costs $6 to register, but the form itself cost the registrar $3). You don’t have to hug me tomorrow, but realize that I don’t get a whole lot out of registering rabbits, other than learning more about them. I know that some people have been frustrated with registrars because they are showing their own bunnies and such. But sometimes it is difficult for a club to even find a registrar to serve at the show. You are not going to find any, I don’t think, who will stand by for the whole show just waiting for rabbits to register.


Table Secretaries (Writers)

Would you like to learn how to be a writer?  This is a fun way to help out a show and learn a lot!  Click here!

These folks have one of the biggest impacts on the pace of a show. A writer who is on the ball can really keep things going. He or she can either passively write down what they are told, or they can look ahead, continually keep the judge informed on numbers in each class, letting the judge know when the class is complete, calling for the next class, and so forth. The best table secretaries communicate with the judge and adjust to his or her preferences. Some judges like to have all of the rabbits on the table, even if that means using the holding coops. Others consider the holding coops to be something for the judge’s use only. The best writers will simply ask and will take as much pressure off the judge as possible. The more the judge can just judge, the smoother and more quickly things will go.

[Note: I am not a fan of the fast judge – he or she misses too much even though they THINK they are doing a super job. Fast judges often have no clue what they are missing. Neither am I a fan of the slow show. It seems a paradox, but it’s not. I like to see the judges taking all of the time they need to evaluate rabbits and not having to spend time waiting for rabbits.]


youth kids exhibitors at a rabbit show judge pam nock

Judge Pam Nock evaluates American Fuzzy Lops at the Michigan State Rabbit Breeders Convention

Surprised to see this one? We as exhibitors have jobs, too. Our responsibilities include trying to make the most accurate entry possible from the beginning. Substitutions happen, but when exhibitors take care, there are fewer changes to be made and the show can start on time.

We have the responsibility of arriving on time at the show and at the table. Sure, sometimes you have two breeds on the table at once and you are allowed to go to the restroom. But some people are perpetually not paying attention.

We have the responsibility to try to play nicely with others and be cooperative. It’s also very helpful if we are flexible. That doesn’t mean that you have to be a doormat, but at least consider that there’s a awful lot going on during a show and not everything can go your way.

Show Committee/Club

Those are the invisible people at a show. They may have worked for months before the show, selecting and securing judges and a registrar, finding a great location, planning for awards, securing sanctions, and making myriads of decisions. They set up before you arrive and they clean up after you leave. These are truly the unsung heroes of the show.

I hope you are going to a rabbit show this weekend. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. While you are there, take a few minutes to think about all of the great jobs that people are doing. And thank them, while you’re at it.

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