Fair season is busy season for poultry judge



Poultry judge Courtney Kunze has approximately 20 contests booked for the summer.

From the small animal barn at the Ellis County Fairgrounds to the participants, she ranks the Ellis County Fair near the top.

In fact, when Kunze's sister from Ohio, Nicholle Lang, was trying to choose a time to visit Kansas this summer, Kunze told her to come during the Ellis County Fair week.

Despite predictions of 100-plus degree temperatures, Kunze was upbeat Tuesday morning as she waited to judge the 4-Hpoultry projects.

"The barn is amazing," Kunze said, glancing around pens full of rabbits and poultry with shaded green screens on the east side and large tents on the west. "And this is one of the best poultry shows in Kansas."

Kunze, in her second year of judging poultry at the Ellis County Fair, has traveled the past two years from the Manhattan area to judge at fairs throughout Kansas and other events in Missouri and Colorado.

Her husband is in the U.S. Army, and when he was transferred to Fort Riley in 2010, she got in touch with Scott Beyer, the poultry specialist at Kansas State University.

"Scott told us about her," said Susan Schlichting, 4-H Extension agent for Ellis County. "He knew she had moved into the area and was a good judge.

"Poultry is such a specialized thing, and it's hard to find someone with the depth of knowledge. She connected last year really well, and we were tickled that she was able to come back next year."

Kunze, who was involved in 4-H and FFA in her home state of Ohio since she was 7, won't be back to Hays to judge next year, though. Her husband is being transferred to Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz., in November.

"I'm going to miss it," Kunze said of the Ellis County Fair. "It's one of my favorite fairs."