GREENFIELD — Nearly 90 frisky ferrets converged on the Hancock County Fairgrounds last weekend for the Ferret 500.

The annual fundraiser is hosted by Five Points Ferret Refuge, a nonprofit rescue on the southeast side of Indianapolis.

Saturday’s daylong festival featured ferret games and competitions as well as vendors selling everything from ferret-themed clothing and keepsakes to ferret beds, hammocks and toys.

There was also a professional photo booth for snapping photos of ferrets looking their finest.

“We strive to make it a family-friendly, welcoming environment, but most importantly is our outreach to our community — letting them know exactly what we do and educating them on what it takes to give exotic pets a forever home,” said Heather Stone, fundraising coordinator for the Five Points rescue group.

Bill Bahring examines a ferret during the Ferret 500. Close to 90 ferrets of different breeds were on display at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. The event was to help raise funds for a nearby animal rescue. Saturday, June 8, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

Nearly 90 ferrets were registered for Saturday’s event, which was sanctioned by the American Ferret Association.

Stone said the Ferret 500 is one of only four or five ferret shows throughout the United States, drawing visitors from as far as Canada and all over the U.S.

Jen Bierman made the four-hour drive from St. Louis to bring her 12-year-old daughter Abigail and her ferret, Simon, to the show.

Abigail has been a big fan of ferrets since she was around 9 years old. She gets a lot of looks when she walks Simon on a leash around her neighborhood.

“She gets stopped a lot. A lot of people aren’t really sure what she is,” said Bierman, referring to Simon.

The passionate pet owners who attended Saturday’s Ferret 500 know exactly what makes ferrets such great pets, and they’re happy to tell you about it.

“You cannot have a bad day with a ferret,” said Stone, whose family has two ferrets at home.

A ferret rests his head moments after being judged during Saturday’s Ferret 500 at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

“If you’re having a bad day and you go and sit with your ferret, that joy that they bring is contagious. Your cares just melt away,” said the Whiteland woman. “If you’ve never watched ferret play, it’s just amazing. They are just chaotic bundles of joy.”

Ferrets are known to bond for life, said Stone, whose whole family is fond of ferrets.

Her husband, aunt and son all participated in Saturday’s event at the fairgrounds, which was the 11th such event hosted by the Five Points rescue but the first held at the Hancock County Fairgrounds.

“Hancock County has been a blessing. We’ve had tremendous support here,” said Bill Bahring, a certified judge from Florence, Ky.

Hancock County Tourism helped sponsor the event, said Stone, who hopes to see the Ferret 500 return to Greenfield for years to come.

“The amenities and the amount of support (the county) has offered us was just unbelievable. The welcoming environment and willingness to help us succeed was overwhelming and very much appreciated, and really sold us on where we want to be,” she said.

Saturday’s event featured professional judging of ferrets in various categories, right down to best of show. Just as other pets are shown at the county fair, Bahring said ferrets are likewise judged on their overall health, structure and disposition.

“They all have their own personality, just like humans,” he said.

The Ferret 500 also featured fun competitions like a costume contest, car races and paper bag escape, even a “cutie booty” contest.

Tracy Shepherd of Chicago, a judge-in-training at Saturday’s event, said the fun contests are designed to bring out the ferrets’ spirited side.

“You know how everybody loves that kitten that’s up and playing and just riotous? Ferrets are like that, but are highly intelligent,” said Shepherd, who owns four ferrets while her roommate owns six.

Stone said ferret ownership is both an expensive and emotional endeavor, given the fact ferrets have a relatively short lifespan of 5 to 7 years.

“You become so attached to the joy they bring,” she said.