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Ethan Frantz takes skills to state fair

Staff writer

Earlier this summer, Ethan Frantz of rural Hillsboro put an appropriate final touch on a quarter-century of his family’s status as competitors in the swine showmanship competition at the Marion County Fair.

In his final year competing, Frantz won his eighth consecutive grand championship, 25 years after older brother Nolan first entered the competition.

“He (Ethan) started doing this as soon as he could walk,” his mother, Jan Frantz, said.

Swine showmanship takes knowledge of the animals and interaction with judges to go along with a quality pig, he said.

“It takes some luck,” Frantz said.

It also takes countless hours of work. Frantz takes time to wash his pigs every other day, because it is good for their hair and skin, giving them a level of individual attention unseen at commercial swine operations.

“A show pig operation is different than a commercial operation,” he said.

The show pig industry focuses on generating a few pigs of the highest quality. In comparison, economic forces dictate that commercial hog farms operate at peak efficiency to make a profit.

Despite the individual attention Frantz gives his pigs, he tries not to become emotionally attached.

“I have never named a show pig,” he said. “I start to get too attached to them.”

The secret to his success is his year-round involvement with raising show pigs. His family raises show pigs, so Frantz has more experience with them than most people. He also has a detailed knowledge of each pig’s lineage and how successful its parents were as show pigs.

For his first four years competing, there was one insurmountable obstacle in Frantz’s way — his sister, Laci. She defeated him every year until she was too old to compete. In his first year as the only member of his family competing, Ethan won his first grand championship, and he hasn’t stopped winning them since.

He has also had a string of successes at the Tri-County Fair in Herington, winning several championships, along with other shows throughout the state. Frantz has even shown nationally, at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.

But this will be his first year competing for the showmanship prize at the Kansas State Fair in September in Hutchinson. Conflicts with football have prevented him from entering in previous years.

Frantz said he should be competitive at the state fair, because most of the competition will be familiar to him.

Last modified Aug. 18, 2011

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