OMG!!! I grew up in the Oakland County Fair!! I was a 4-Her from ages 8 to 19! In fact my mom is the Dog Superintendent. I'm assuming you are showing in pocket pets? I haven't shown bettas, but I used to show guinea pigs and rats in pocket pets, and won best in show several times. I also did horse, rabbits, and dogs, but that's besides the point. Anyway, small world :P
Oh, btw how did the pocket pets section of the fair work? Did the judges just walk around and look at the animals or are you required to take them a special judging platform? And how do the awards get handed out? Do they give them at a award ceremony or do they just hand them to you? (I told you I was new to this)
OK, so if it has stayed the same, pocket pets is divided into several sections based on the type of animal. You compete first with people in your section/age group, then the winners get judged overall for best in show.
You take with you your entire set up and have it ready to be reviewed by the judges. A judge (or a couple) will come up to you when your time is ready, and this is your time to just talk your ear off about your pet. If they ask you questions, answer as completely and intelligently as you can. Likely they will just say "tell me about your pet" and that is your cue to just go on and on about your pet, its life history, physiology, care, things that make it unique, etc. They want to know how much care you put into it, what type of food you give it and why, everything. Especially because this is 4H, they like to know the science stuff. Feel free to talk about betta behavior, the importance of the nitrogen cycle, betta reproduction, etc, but always bring it back to your betta in particular. The amount of direction you get from the judges is entirely based on your judge. They may ask questions (which you should always expand on, not just give short answers) or leave it open ended. The point is to overwhelm them with your knowledge - don't let them leave because you ran out of things to say ;)
Awards change each year they do it, but they are generally handed out at the end - be prepared to be there for several hours, especially if you place high in your age group/section and get judged overall.
Hope that helps, feel free to ask me if there is anything else I can help you out with!
1. Judging is very subjective, as you are competing with people with many different types of pets. I don't really remember fish being very common for people to show, and you will likely be the only one with a betta. Because of this, judging is NOT based on how pretty your betta is, or really about your betta at all. It's all about you, your presentation of your pet, and your knowledge of the subject.
2. I would NOT feed anything special - you don't want your betta bloated, constipated, or acting funny the day of. But I would have deep knowledge about the types of food you feed and why.
3. Again, your pet is not judged, you are, so you really don't need to do anything special to prepare him. Just make sure his tank is clean and nicely presented so it looks like you take good care of him :P If he does anything neat that the judges might find interesting (chases your finger, flares at a mirror) then by all means, show the judges. That shows that you are very knowledgeable about your pet and his behavior.
It's 4-H, so you have to be in 4-H and under the age of 18 and a resident of Oakland County. But most counties have 4-H fairs, so if you're under 18, you can certainly look into your local 4-H programs. Definitely not betta only. Pocket Pets are really a "miscellaneous" category where people can show their pets that aren't livestock (cows, poultry, swine, sheep, rabbits, etc), dogs, cats, or horses.
yeah i'm not under 18 and live in Wayne Co. Was just hoping there was a local betta show. Kinda sad there isn't really much of anything around here despite this practically being the birthplace of Betta showing in this country.