It wasn’t early in the morning, but there was a lot of cock-a-doodle-dooing going on last week. Although they were content to crow for mere chicken feed, the top roosters were vying for title of best crower around during the Rooster Crowing Contest held at the Washington County Fair on Sunday, July 29.
Rooster crowing contests had been held earlier in the week, narrowing the flock to the best squawkers in the lineup. The group of five feathered finalists took their places in their cages, and when the contest started, the crowd cheered them on.
The roosters had 15 minutes to crow as many times as they could. Skilled judges took a tally of each squawk. Harold, a Rhode Island Red Rooster, was the favored contestant. During a contest held the previous day, Harold had crowed a whopping 32 times in 15 minutes.
This was the first year that Harold and his 11- year-old owner, Cameron Wetzel, had entered the contest. Cameron arguably did the most and loudest cheering for his bird out of all the contestants’ owners. “Come on, Harold! You can do it!” Cameron cheered loudly, clapping his hands.
In the next cage, Puffy, a large black rooster with a red comb, looked like he might catch up. So much so that whispers of a crow-off started to make their way through the crowd. But then Puffy showed how he got his namesake.
He took a deep breath, puffed out his chest and fanned his tail feathers, ready to strut his stuff. His crowing slowed way down, and he did not even make a peep. Cameron saw this as a chance to pull ahead.
He encouraged Harold all the more. “Come on, Harold! Think of your girls!” Cameron coached loudly. Harold seemed to understand the message and began fixing his feathers with his sharp beak, attempting to look his sharpest. “Stop pruning yourself!” Cameron chided.
“Come on, Harold, just a couple more crows! You can do it!” Down at the other end of the line, 10-year-old Tessa Smith worked her Lemon Blue Old English Rooster named Lime. Lime was much smaller than Harold, with a quieter voice, but he still could crow plenty often.
To encourage Lime to make some noise, Tessa blew softly at his head. The soft breeze was not comforting to Lime. But Tessa was not trying to soothe him. “It helps to make him angry. Then he crows more,” Tessa explained knowingly.
As the timer continued counting down to 15 minutes, the roosters repeatedly crowed, as if someone kept hitting the snooze button. As the contest neared a close, Cameron cheered all the louder, clapping and encouraging Harold.
It worked, and Harold pulled through with a couple more screeches, claiming victory with a total of 24 crows. As Cameron accepted the trophy and $10 prize, he revealed the secret to helping a rooster win a crowing contest: “You have to encourage him and make him think of his girls.”