SPENCER—Anyone outside the Small Animal Barn during the first weekend of the Clay County Fair in Spencer will likely hear the squawking of roosters coming from inside.
That’s because members of the Clay County 4-H Club and National FFA Organization will be trying to get their birds to sound off as much as possible during the Rooster Crowing Contest.
“4-H and FFA members pretty much just take their chicken and line it outside and try to get their roosters to crow,” said Amy Forrette, county youth program coordinator at the Clay County office of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Then volunteers actually count how many times the rooster crows in a certain amount of time.”
She said the fair’s poultry committee is in charge of selecting fairgoers who volunteer to act as the judges for the contest.
The first round of the contest will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, while the finals will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 8. The roosters signed up for the contest must already be entered in the 4-H/FFA Poultry Show to be held at noon Saturday in the Small Animal Barn.
According to the contest rules, participants must use the same rooster each day of the competition. However, if their rooster has zero recorded crows the first day, contestants may swap it for another eligible rooster with the approval of a poultry committee member.
Seventeen-year-old Jacob Schomaker, a member of the Lincoln Lions 4-H Club from Spencer, has shown a rooster in the crowing contest every year since he was 10 and has won the contest twice.
To select which rooster he will show in the contest, Schomaker said he watches all of his roosters before the fair starts to see which ones crow the most. He said the key to competing is showing roosters that are mature enough so they crow more often.
“When they’re younger, they won’t crow. They’ll try, but like they’ll do two crows a day, usually,” he said.
During each round of the contest, 4-H’ers have 20 minutes to use any method they wish to get their roosters to crow besides touching them. Schomaker said a common method is putting roosters in a dark box before the competition to get the birds to crow upon exposing them to the daylight.
Schomaker said his favorite part of competing in the crowing contest is the challenge of choosing a good enough rooster to show that can beat the other competitors.
The first-place winner of the crowing contest receives $30 while the second place received $20 and third place receives $10.