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  A taste for rabbit...
By Sandy Bierworth - AgriNews Staff Writer

SOUTH MOUNTAIN - Elmer Fudd has always had a taste for rabbit. And though the clumsy cartoon character didn't search the South Mountain fairgrounds recently for his "waskly wabbit," plenty of other rabbit-lovers showed up for the 11th annual meat rabbit auction.

The event is held by the Ottawa Valley Meat Rabbit Producers' Association and features an auction of meat rabbits, cages, feed and equipment and distributes information about rabbitries and the benefits of rabbit meat.

This is the first time the event has been held in South Mountain. In past years, it has taken place at the arena in Hallville.

Despite a lower-than-usual turnout, 200 rabbits were auctioned off and dozens of participants had the chance to sample rabbit meat on a bun.

Canada Post was also on hand at the event to celebrate 1999 being the "Year of the Rabbit."

Lorne Holmes, who helped organize the event, says that while rabbit meat is slowly gaining popularity, the influence of television has made rabbit meat hard to swallow for some.

"We're trying to convince the Bugs Bunny generation that it's not a cartoon rabbit you're eating. No one wants to eat Bugs Bunny. And no one wants to eat cute, furry little bunnies either. That's why we only use the ugly ones for meat. The cute ones stay pets," he laughs.

And there were dozens of rabbits auctioned off as pets, he added.

"We like to have some as pets for the children," Holmes said. "But the bigger rabbits are auctioned off for meat."

Among the dozens of participants at the auction was Aline Bergeron of Lunenburg who is planning to open a rabbitry of her own.

"I wanted a job at home and I figured small animals would be easy to work with," she said.

The OVMRPA has members from all over eastern Ontario and plans to make appearances at several local fairs this summer to promote rabbit meat, which is low in cholesterol, calories, sodium and fat and high in protein. It is all white meat and can be served in various dishes, including lasagne and sautĀŽed rabbit salad.

The club also recently ran a four-week rabbit raising seminar, which was attended by 22 people.

A portion of the proceeds from the auction were donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Several local businesses, including Countryside, Co-op and McDonald's Feed in Inkerman, also donated supplies to the auction.

Anyone interested in purchasing rabbit meat or finding out more about meat rabbits can contact Lorne or Helen Holmes at 774-2483.



Eastern Ontario AgriNews is published on the third Monday of each month. The printed version is distributed free by postal mail to farms in Eastern Ontario, Canada.

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