On Saturday, a flock of pigeons gathered inside of the Community Park Center, not just because it was the “coo” thing to do, but because it was part of the Jacksonville Area Pigeon Club’s 45th Annual All-Breed Pigeon Show.

For the uninitiated, a pigeon show is quite the sight. Rows and rows of cages contain beautiful pigeons of all shapes, colors, breeds, all being observed by judges and participants who, for one reason or another, fell in love with these feathered fellows.

Cooper Lorton, 13, posed for a photo with his large green trophy he received for his Voorburg Shield Cropper, a beautiful white bird with a large “globed” neck. Lorton was with his dad, Aaron, both of Williamsville, who got his son into pigeon breeding just as he had done when he was a kid.

“I was into it when I was a little kid, younger than (Cooper) is, and my mom had some birds and I just took a liking to them and then my kids followed in my footsteps,” Aaron Lorton said. “They’re really interesting. They have a lot of different genetic color patterns. They can come out all different colors so it’s a surprise when you get babies out of them. It’s a fun and unique hobby that not a lot of people do.”

The Jacksonville Area Pigeon Club, or JAPC, was founded in 1973 to foster greater interest in the hobby of pigeon breeding and care. Its goal, explained Sarah Brown with the JAPC, is to get more people into the hobby, especially younger kids that might be interested in 4-H activities.

This show, in particular, featured 27 different breeds of birds with over 200 entries into the competition. Not only was there the competition, but there were raffles, auctions, and meals to add to the excitement of a room packed with pigeons.

“I came on as secretary and found out that there were more people into pigeons than I thought,” Brown said. “They just didn’t know we were having the show so we’re kind of branching out.”

The show attracted people from all around the area with interest in pigeons. David Averbeck, a judge at the show that came all the way from St. Louis, said he has gone all the way to California for pigeon shows. There’s quite the interest, he said, but what the hobby needs more than anything is more young people getting interested in what is certainly a unique and interesting hobby.

“It’d be good to see younger people get into the hobby,” Averbeck said. “It’s a hobby that a lot of older people are in but it’d be great to see younger people get involved. Come to junior shows like this. Go to 4-H clubs, have the older people give a presentation out to 4-H clubs. Get the word out there.”


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