Meet Fabio, the winning fowl at the fair. He has something to cluck about in Northwest Wanderings, a column by photographer Alan Berner that explores places and communities throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Fabio is the epitome of cool.
He also knows how to be a champion, well-prepared for his role by 10-year-old 4-H member Cora Shieder, who is his owner, trainer and personal groomer.
There’s no scrounging around in the dirt for grubs, not for this bird.
He lives in a barn, with occasional visits into Cora’s house for a “bath and a blow-dry.”
The rooster is named for the model-turned-actor known for great hair and physique and for his appearances on “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
Fabio the rooster’s comb is bright red, stands tall and glows from skin care with an emollient, like Oil of Olay.
Having already been named the reserve bantam rooster 4-H champion at the Evergreen State Fair, he sits serenely upon the judging table as other members of the Hoofs-n-Paws 4-H club in Duvall do a show-and-tell demonstration.
Cora is presented with another blue ribbon and tucks it conveniently under Fabio’s left wing. He’s a magnet for ribbons as her 4-H colleagues drape theirs upon him.
Fabio is so confident he doesn’t flinch when Emily Seitzinger places Rachel, her long-legged modern game bird, upon his back.
Next, it’s onto the agility course, a new challenge for chickens this year.
There’s the slalom around vertical poles, through a hoop and over a teeter-totter. Travel over the course largely depends on food enticements of dried mealworms and grains.
Back at home, Fabio is married to Domino, another cochin bantam.
The 4-H’ers staged a wedding last fall. According to Cora’s mom, Teresa Opolka, “One kid made a cake, others sewed outfits for the groom, the bride, hens of honor, the best man. There was a ring bearer and another chicken with a bucket of petals around her neck to throw at the newlyweds.”
Fabio’s best friend used to be his son Donald, named after The Donald, because of his bad behavior.
Only 3 years old, Fabio should have many years of competition ahead.
“Fabio comes from a long line of chicken champions,” Cora’s mom says, adding that unlike the human Fabio, the rooster doesn’t have a receding hairline.
He’s also a great alarm clock, crowing at 6 a.m. every day.
The Evergreen State Fair runs through Sept. 3 at the fairgrounds in Monroe.