Beau Froderman won the top award of Grand Champion Barrow at the Indiana State Fair on Aug. 7, 2003, with his crossbred barrow named Leroy.
For a swine exhibitor, that is an honor that compares with only one other in the United States which is the Houston Livestock Show. Indiana sets the bar for the nation with its Grand Barrow Drive at the State Fair.
Pigs are judged by experts in the swine industry by looking at their size of frame and muscle as well as how sound they are on foot.
Champion or Reserve Champion pigs must undergo drug testing. That's to be sure they have not been given drugs to enhance muscle volume or pain killers that would enable them to walk with more ease.
There were approximately 1,100 barrows in competition representing all 92 counties in Indiana. Beau's crossbred barrow had to win four competitions to be named Grand Champion Barrow of all breeds. He won the Champion Crossbred Barrow Heavyweight Division in 2000, but did not advance to breed champion.
Clay County was well represented this year at the State Fair in the swine barn. Championship Row is a sought after honor for any 4-H member.
This year Clay County had four pigs penned in Championship Row including Beau's Grand Champion Crossbred Barrow. Brandon Miller won Champion Crossbred Gilt and Summer Fagg had two pigs with Reserve Champion York Barrow and Gilt.
Beau, a Junior at Northview High School, is a nine-year 4-H member. He has shown swine every year, as has his sister, Callie, who is a seven-year member. His interest in swine began in 1992, when his parents, Ted and Cheryl Froderman, began raising hogs commercially.
Even though Beau and Callie were small, everyone had jobs to do. When they joined the Jackson Twp. Farmhands 4-H Club, they began a learning experience of how to feed and exercise their pigs to "fit" them for the show arena. They learned responsibility and time management as well as perseverance.
During Beau's first year at State Fair in 1996, he saw pigs being loaded up to go across the fairgrounds to the Coliseum for the Grand Barrow Drive. He said, "That's where I want to be. I want my pig to go to the Coliseum." He pursued that goal with determination and realized his dream this August.
The Grand Champion Barrow is automatically in the Sale of Champions, also known as the Spotlight Sale, which was held Aug. 11, in the Pepsi Coliseum. This sale began in 1970 and features 24 of the finest exhibits from more than 11,000 animals and produce entries at the Fair.
4-H members offer Champion exhibits from beef, sheep, swine, rabbit, poultry, horticulture, meat goat, dairy goat, diary cow and wool projects. The State Fair is always a big part of summer for 4-H animal exhibitors. Several families from Clay County meet on the Saturday before the Fair begins to travel to the fairgrounds as a group. This is so they can be "penned" together in the same part of the swine barn. While there, everyone enjoys sharing food and drink and receiving the support of other families.
Beau stayed in the dormitory upstairs at the swine barn during his eight day sojourn at the fair. He met with friends from the state FFA organization. Many of his friends from home traveled to the fairgrounds to visit. Even though there is a strong sense of competition in Clay County, a stronger bond of lifelong friendships develop. Like the "lucky show stick".
A show stick is used by the owners to drive their hogs during competition. Beau lost his original stick before his exhibit. So Brandon Miller, who had won Champion Crossbred Gilt two days earlier, gave his show stick to Beau.
Many hours are spent with a shovel or a show stick in hand long before any competition begins. Beau knows that attitude and showmanship skills can be the deciding factor on whether your pig wins or loses a competition.
"This is unlike some competitions where you have a score board or a timer to choose the winner," Beau said. "So before every show, we always remind each other that this is one man's opinion on one particular day."