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MATTOON -- A new, regional American Rabbit Breeders Association-sanctioned show is scheduled to be held Saturday at the Cross County Mall.

The Rabbit Renegades Rabbit Breeders Association, a local chapter of the American association, has organized this show in the former Carson's store space. Mattoon resident Bob Donnell, who is chapter president, said this show will focus on "six class" breeds of rabbits that compete in one of six different competitive classes based on age, weight or sex.

Donnell said the local chapter formed recently to focus on rabbit breeding as a hobby, instead of as a money making venture, and its membership decided to bring an American association show to Coles County.

"Our show is about promoting the hobby and getting more people interested in showing rabbits and enjoying the animals," Donnell said.

Admission to Saturday's rabbit show will be free and open to the public. Donnell said the chapter has extended a special invitation for local 4-H youths who raise and show rabbits to attend.

Entries for the show will be due by 8:30 a.m. Donnell said the competitions, in which the rabbits will be judged on body type and fur quality, will end by about 5-6 p.m. He said the interior and exterior entrances to the Carson's space will be open during the show, and the Don Sol Mexican Grill food truck will be at the exterior door.

Donnell said this regional show already has drawn pre-registered entries of rabbits from as far away as Kansas, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. He added that many of the participants will stay overnight at local motels before the show.

The Mattoon City Council voted on Tuesday to allocate a $1,000 hotel/motel tax fund grant for supporting the rabbit show. Council member Rick Hall, who oversees tourism projects, said he appreciates that the show will draw visitors from multiple states in the winter, a time when few special events like this are held in Mattoon.

Donnell said he is thankful for the support from the city and other sponsors of the rabbit show. Donnell said he is also grateful to the mall's property owner, the Mattoon-based Rural King company, for providing a venue for the show and clearing out Carson's fixtures from the space to get it ready.

"The people at Rural King were so excellent to deal with. I could not have asked for more," Donnell said, adding that the show's participants look forward to visiting with the public and shopping at the mall.

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @RobStroud

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