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MATTOON -- More than 40 breeds of rabbits, totaling up to 3,000 bunnies, are set to be displayed during an American Rabbit Breeders Association all breeds show on Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15, at the Cross County Mall.

The Rabbit Renegades Rabbit Breeders Association, a new local chapter of the American association, has organized this show in the former Carson's store space. The chapter held its first American association show on Dec. 8 at the mall, a show focused on the "six class" breeds of rabbits that compete in one of six different classes based on age, weight or sex.

Mattoon resident Bob Donnell, who is chapter president, said the expanded two-day show will be open to all 49 unique breeds that are recognized by the American association. Donnell said more than 400 breeders from 20 plus states, including from as far as Oregon, have already signed up bring rabbits representing nearly all these breeds to the Mattoon show.

Donnell thanked the Cross County Mall's property owner, the Mattoon-based Rural King company, for making it possible for the local chapter to hold two large shows in a row there.

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"They are basically opening their arms and welcoming the rabbit community into their facility there," Donnell said. He added that Rural King also has supported the American association and rabbit breading in general at the national level.

Rabbits are scheduled to be displayed from 5 p.m. to approximately 9 p.m. Friday and from 7 a.m. to about 6 p.m. Saturday. Donnell said show participants and spectators will once again be able to access the former Carson's store space by the exterior entrance on the north side of the building and the interior entrance along the mall concourse.

Donnell said the local chapter welcomes visitors to watch the show and to ask the breeders questions about raising rabbits. He said they are always willing to help newcomers get started in this pursuit. For example, Donnell said rabbits can be legally raised in city limits, so they are a good project option for 4-H youths who live in town.

"It allows a 4-H kid to actually raise animals even if they don't live on a farm," Donnell said.

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

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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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