Bernson's Corner: Elmo the prize porker of southern Indiana
At the Indiana State Fair, size may not be everything, but "big" is important: big crowds, a big pumpkin contest, and more.
Indiana has a big pork industry with eight million pigs marketed last year. But one pig that lives just a few miles from downtown Louisville, is one of the biggest stories ever in Bernson's Corner.
This is the moment Cory Patton and Elmo have been waiting for. Cory is 20 years old. Elmo is three and a half. Their goal: to win the World's Largest Pig competition at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. For 2010, the fair's theme is "The Year of the Pig."
The last time Elmo got on a scale he weighed 1,175 pounds. Think of it this way: Elmo almost outweighs the front four on the Chicago Bears defensive line. Elmo, whose full name is Tickle Me Elmo the Third, may not turn out to be the World's Largest, but he's got to be the biggest in Indiana.
It was an untimely demise for Patton's Elmo II. He finished second at the State Fair last year, but then tragically died of pneumonia, the victim of too many fans in the Swine Pavilion.
So this giant Duroc hog has been kind of a family project. Elmo gets a bath, although looks have nothing to do with it when you're trying to become "Hogzilla."
Patton says, "prettiness don't matter to the boars. All they got to do for the competition is be able to get off the trailer. Walk to the scales."
Cory's grandfather, Donald Graf says, "he's got a good set of legs on him, and good feet. Most of them at that stage and weight, their feet give out on them, and they can't walk. And they got to walk a pretty good distance up there at the Fair. If they can't walk to the scale, they're disqualified."
Graf has been raising pigs in Clark County more than 60 years, and he thinks Elmo III has a good chance of coming back and making a try at the state fair next year.
Elmo's destiny is not to become pork chops, but just to keep growing, until he dies of old age, probably in six or seven years. He'll keep getting fed 10 pounds of ground corn a day. Patton says "it takes a lot more feed to feed him than what you get in prize money."
Elmo is just too big to breed to a sow, so he'll just eat and sleep and think long piggy thoughts about his life of leisure. Not a bad life at that: we guess this is what they mean when they call it "hog heaven."
And Elmo is "some pig." Turns out he did win the big pig contest at the fair. He tipped the scales at 1,277 pounds.
He beat Reggie, a Red Wattle from Austin Indiana, who checked in at 1,201 pounds. The third place hog weighed 1,174 pounds.