Poultry Fly-Off Fun at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair

by Caitlyn Andrews August 09, 2017

4-H Poultry Club Fly-Off Event

At Veterinary and Poultry Supply, Inc. (VPSI) we understand the value of the 4-H program and have been fortunate to be able to contribute to our local fair. This year, we sponsored several club events and shows, including the Elkhart County 4-H Poultry Club.

We asked Poultry Club Leader, Sue Perri, what we could sponsor and she suggested the 4-H Poultry Fly-Off Event. As the sponsor of the Fly-Off, we were asked to be the announcer for the event. We're glad we did! It was a blast and we got to see the Poultry Club members enjoying a fun event after participating in their serious showmanship classes that week.

Poultry Fly-Off Launch Pad
Above: Getting ready for take off, the appropriately named "King Kong" pictured above was the largest chicken in the fly-off event this year.


About The Poultry & Angry Birds Fly-Off Events

The Poultry Fly-Off has been a tradition at the Elkhart fair for awhile now. However, two years ago in 2015, a statewide poultry ban was in place that required the club to get creative with their classes. The 4-Hers couldn't bring their birds to the fair because a stop movement ban was being enforced to prevent the spread of an avian influenza outbreak. Without their birds to show at the fair, 4-Hers participated in fun classes and even showed stuffed animals in showmanship in place of live poultry.

In the Fly-Off event birds fly from a launching pad and the distance flown is measured to determine the winners. Without birds at the fair in 2015, it seemed that the Fly-Off would have to be canceled. Instead, the club came up with a creative way to keep the competition that year. The Fly-Off event was replaced with the Angry Birds-Style Fly-Off. The 4-Hers measured the distance of Angry Birds bean bags thrown in place of the live birds.

The Angry Birds event was a hit! When the birds were able to come back the next year for fair instead of going back to the regular Fly-Off they kept the Angry Birds-Style Fly-Off, too. Now, the Angry Birds-Style Fly-Off has become a part of the tradition and 4-Hers get to compete in both Fly-Offs now.

The Poultry Fly-Off is split into three categories based on the weight of the birds. A club leader stands on the launching pad where the 4-Hers hand off their chickens to her. The bird goes into the launching pad "barn" (pictured below) and is gently nudged to encourage it to fly. When the bird lands, the distance is measured and the bird that flies the farthest wins. 4-Hers win a prize for first through third place for each category. That means there are nine winners in total that will get a cash prize.

Poultry Club Fly-Off Fun Event
Above: 4-Hers hand their birds to the club leader for the Fly-Off.

There were many interesting bird names to announce as they went to the launching pad for their chance to fly. Many of the 4-Hers enter multiple chickens and birds at the fair each year, so they get to come up with a lot of fun names. One 4-Her said she was running out of good names, so she named her hen "Rubber Cement". Other fun names that popped up in the event were "Butch", "Bob", "Fish", "Rabbit", and "King Kong".

4-H Poultry Fly-Off Event

Above: 4-H Poultry Club members run to catch the chickens as they fly to the ground.

Part of the fun of the Fly-Off is catching the birds when they land. The Miss Elkhart County 4-H Fair Queen and the Senior Queen Pageant winners are asked to participate in the Fly-Off event. The 2017 queens were good sports as they laughed and ran after the birds with nets to catch them when they landed before they could escape. At the end of the event, the queens were each given their own birds to name and hand to the club leaders to compete in their own Fly-Off. It was a fun event that the fair queens will always remember getting to participate in.

We had so much fun this year that we'll definitely be back for next year's event. We look forward to seeing everyone next year at the 2018 Poultry Fly-Off!

Below: Winners of the 2017 Poultry Fly-Off!

4-H Club Poultry Winners
Fly-Off Event Winners
Poultry Club Event Winners

Caitlyn Andrews
Caitlyn Andrews


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