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After years of fair competition, Sharon woman takes home prize



FAIRPHOTO
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Emilie Cerny, 20, of Sharon, took the reserve championship for her hog, Gooper. Brittany Schoenbeck, 15, of Walworth took home the Grand Championship for her pig, White Socks. For more on Schoenbeck, pick up a copy of this week's Regional News.

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September 07, 2011 | 08:18 AM
ELKHORN — It was Emilie Cerny's last chance to take home one of the top prizes at the Walworth County Fair.

The 20-year-old Sharon woman has been showing pigs at the fair for years, but she never took home a fancy purple ribbon.

This was the last year the 2010 Big Foot High School Graduate could compete in the fair and she came out big, winning the reserve grand champion.

Cerny's win was a celebration for her entire family. After all, for the past 22 years, neither Cerny nor any of her siblings have had an animal finish that high at the fair. In the barn at the fair the family hugged and tears were shed, Cerny said.

"Everyone was so excited that it finally happened after 22 years," Cerny said.

During Friday afternoon's meat animal sale auction, her 261-pound hog sold for $9 a pound.

Although it was nice to win the top honor, which typically fetches more money during the auction, that isn't what motivates Cerny to show animals at the fair.

"You work at something all summer long and showing it is your reward for the hard work," she said. "It is the greatest feeling in the world whether you are on the top of the class or the bottom of the class."

Her background of showing animals and being involved with agriculture should help Cerny when she begins her career. She is attending Black Hawk College in Kewanee, Ill., which is a small school dedicated entirely to agricultural studies. She majors in swine production technology.

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Ideally, after she graduates from college, Cerny hopes to work for a research firm that studies swine nutrition.

She already had an internship in that field in Madison.

Swine nutrition becomes an important aspect of showing animals during the fair. In the months leading up to the fair, Cerny said the diet of the pig becomes specific with careful counts of calories, proteins and fats.

"At home, the barn becomes a chemistry lab," she said. "The diet changes for each pig because each pig is different."

Cerny won't reveal the animal's exact diet, but did say a show pig tends to live a pretty pampered life, receiving skin and hair conditioning nightly.

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It isn't just grooming with the pigs. This year, she said her pig has a very good temperament, "he is more like a dog than a pig."

When she picked her pig up as a piglet, she knew it needed a good name.

"He was the cutest when he was a baby and I had to come up with a cute name," Cerny said. "I was watching Sponge Bob one day and the Goofy Gooper song came on."

In the past, Cerny has shown animals at both the Walworth County Fair and the State Fair. She said she prefers showing animals locally.

"I like the county fair it has a nicer atmosphere. Everyone knows everybody and they help out," she said. "The state fair is more competitive. The air is tense."

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However, that doesn't mean the Walworth County Fair isn't a competitive spot.

"It is a very, very competitive fair and it is getting more competitive as time goes on," she said.

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