The parents of Amarillo hobbyist Charles Hanna’s winning Hessian Pouter pigeons originated in Germany, but the birds bred in Amarillo are now national breed champions.

Hannah’s pigeons are among 4,589 being shown through Saturday at the National Pigeon Association Grand National championships at the Amarillo Civic Center Complex. The show is free and open to the public.

“I bought the parents from Germany and raised these here,” Hannah said of his blue Hessian Pouter that won the top cock award and hen that won in its category. “They’re about a year old.

“My blue pouter won the breed because it had better features and color and fuller feathers.”

Pigeon enthusiasts from the United States, Europe, Canada and Mexico are in Amarillo for the NPA’s annual national show and seem pleased with the accommodations of the first-time host city.

“This is wonderful,” said Rick Barker of Temecula, Calif. “I’ve been to 40 national conventions and the facilities are beautiful. This is our first time in Amarillo and it’s one of the best facilities ever.”

While the NPA show boosts the local economy, it wasn’t just the facilities and Embassy Suites hotel across Buchanan Street that impressed Barker.

“I can’t believe how friendly the people of Amarillo are,” he said. “We asked for directions to a restaurant and the lady said, ‘Come on, it’s close, I’ll take you,’ and she walked us there.”

Larry Warnecke of Highland, Ill., who is in the city with his American King pigeons, echoed Barker in praise for Amarillo.

“The facilities have lots of room and the hotel just across the street is fantastic,” Warnecke said.

Barker said the attraction to raising pigeons often has its roots in raising chickens.

“Many of us grew up with chickens and moved to the city,” Barker said. “For city people, this is as close farming as a city person can get. It (also) gets the kids off their phones texting.”

One of those teens at the show, Vincent Pizzuto, 14, of Prescott, Ariz., has been involved in raising pigeons since age 3.

“I’m not showing here, but friends brought me,” Pizzuto said. “I love a lot of things about raising pigeons — the colors, you meet a lot of people, the competition, the awards.”

The participants come from all walks of life.

“We have doctors, dentists, attorney and all kinds of people showing,” he said. “This is a show, but racing pigeons have million dollar championships and you can make more money racing pigeons that racing horses, and I’ve done both.”

The showing of champions will be the show’s feature at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The top pouter — known for their blowing of their bills that makes them look like they are “pouting” — of 30 breeds will be in Saturday’s final lineup, and Hannah hopes his birds among the finalists.


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