HARRISBURG – The arena was packed as spectators watched rabbits from all corners of the state leap their way through the Celebrity Rabbit Hopping Competition.
Seven local celebrities were paired with 4-H members and their rabbits to navigate a 50-foot-lane filled with hurdles up to two feet tall – smaller replicas of jumps seen at equine competitions.
Also, in comparison to equine shows, the rabbit that knocked down the fewest poles and completed the course in the fastest time won.
Paperplanes placed first, exhibited by Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources Cindy Dunn and coached by her owner, Sydney Turner of Philipsburg, Clearfield County.
Other celebrity participants included Pennsylvania Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, Secretary of Environmental Protection Patrick McDonnell, ABC27 News Anchor Valerie Pritchett News, Fox 43 Reporter Grace Grifton, Rep. Patty Kim, and Executive Director of The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs Tiffany Chang-Lawson.
Rabbits were randomly assigned to their celebrity handlers. Each rabbit is trained for rabbit hopping and coached by their 4-H member owner.
Winning rabbits every year since the competition’s inception have been trained by Turner, whose rabbit won this year.
Turner owns a rabbit coach business, where she trains rabbits for others and has competed at the American Rabbit Breeders Association National Convention.
This was Turner’s last year of eligibility to participate in the rabbit hop.
Rabbit hopping was developed in Sweden during the early 1970’s and was introduced into the United States in 2001.
By 2013, the American Rabbit Breeders Association formed and chartered the American Hopping Association for Rabbits and Cavies.
Other results (celebrity, rabbit and owner):
- Second – Pennsylvania Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky with Cotton Candy, owned by Rebecca Tone of Tunkhannock, Wyoming Co.
- Third – Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell with Elliott, owned by Libby Kent, Mercer, Venango Co.