MANATEE -- Months of work paid off Saturday, as kids showed off their prized pigs hoping to sell at a high price.
Carly Patterson's pig, Bella, only weighed 52 pounds on Sept. 19 when she began raising her. But at the Manatee County Fair on Saturday she weighed in at 263 pounds.
And 18-year-old Carly said she loved every minute of raising that pig.
More than 150 pigs were sold at the Manatee County fair's annual swine sale on Saturday, after being raised by local children who smiled as they hoped their hard work would turn into top dollar sales.
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For many of the FFA students, the swine show is an annual event they look forward to.
"I've been doing pigs for seven years," Carly said. "I just think they are small personable, animals."
This year's fair was bitter sweet for Carly, since she is a graduating senior at Lakewood Ranch High School.
"It's so awesome to see the whole community get involved," she said.
She will remember the leadership skills she has learned and has fond memories of watching the smaller children, she said. In college, she hopes to take what she has learned and study to be a large animal veterinarian, specializing in pigs, she said, since there are so few who do.
Adding to the sorrow of the day, was having to say good bye to Bella.
"On Wednesday I heard a song and I just started to cry," Carly said.
Parents, whether volunteering or in the stands, were also proud of the hard work their children had done to get them to the fair.
Julie Bryan, sat off to the side of the auction area, ready to enter buyers bids. But she stopped, looked up and smiled when the Senior Showmanship winner entered, her daughter Mackenzie.
She was proud of Mackenzie and her daughter Shelby, who also competed, she said.
"It's good for them because they get to see how putting in hard work gets results," Bryan said.
For her it was also reminiscent of Kewanee, the Illinois town where she grew up, known as the Hog Capital of the World, she said.
It was her daughters decision to participate, however, she said.
"It helped that I had a lot of hog connections," Bryan added.
Caleb Bennett, 10, stood proudly by his pig, Kimber, as the moments until the start of the swine sale ticked away.
"The hardest part is you have to spend time with it," Caleb said. "If you want to do good at the fair, you have to work."
And Caleb was not afraid to do the hard work, he proudly said. It was his third year competing.
Every morning he would get up to tend to Kimber, some mornings spending more time than others.
Caleb, who is homeschooled, said he enjoys the sale.
"You have the chance to meet people," he said.
His sister also participated, taking the Grand Champion award.
"I'm extremely happy," Caleb said.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twittercface fontname="Roman" naxe="0" iaxis="0"/>