EARLY — Nearly a year after Larry Schwartz’s death, the project known simply as the Pig Project — which Schwartz helped start in 2014 — has renewed life.
The Pig Project, which benefits Good Samaritan ministries, was on hiatus during the 2019 Brown County Youth Fair due to Schwartz’s illness and death. Schwartz died early on the morning of Jan. 12, 2019 in an Abilene hospice at age 72.
With the 2020 youth fair days away, Schwartz’s wife and daughters are helping bring the Pig Project back.
Schwartz was a longtime youth fair supporter and donor. Along with Kirby Cabler, Schwartz helped start the Pig Project in 2014. With the Pig Project, pigs that don’t sell at the youth fair are bought with donations from community members. The animals are taken to the rural property northeast of Early where Larry Schwartz lived with his wife, Ruth, who continues to live there.
The pigs are kept and fed on the property for 45 to 60 days, then taken to slaughter. The meat is donated to Good Samaritan Ministries.
“He got so bad so fast, we couldn’t take all of the arrangements to get (the Pig Project) done,” Ruth Schwartz said, referring to the Pig Project’s hiatus at the 2019 youth fair.
“It means so very, very much,” Schwartz said of resuming the Pig Project. She referred to a 2017 media report in which her husband said the Pig Project helps the youth at the youth fair and also helps the community.
“That’s very important,” Ruth Schwartz said. “It helps the youth fair kids. Plus, it helps the families served by Good Samaritan. I’m thankful Shannon wants to do this.”
She said her husband would be pleased “beyond measure. It had become such an important thing to Larry. He would just be so pleased and I can see that smile,” Schwartz said.
On Larry and Ruth Schwartz’s property Friday morning, a small work detail prepped pens that will hold the pigs for the 2020 Pig Project.
Workers consisted of Schwartz daughter Shannon Adams; her 21-year-old daughter, Morgan, and 14-year-old son, Dalton; and Brian Clark and Curtis Shults, who are involved with Good Samaritan Ministries’ Deer Project.
Dalton, who won the grand champion goat and junior showmanship awards at the 2019 youth fair, will be showing goats once again.
“Basically all we’re doing today is prepping the pen, shoring up the fences, cleaning the pen,” Shannon Adams said. “It was overgrown with weeds and these two men right here, Mr. Clark and Mr. Shults, got really busy and cleaned all of it up so that we can bring these pigs in here and put them in here.
“We’re going to probably just do about 15 to 20 this year. We’re not going to do real big since it’s our first year back into it.”
Larry Schwartz loved helping the community and giving back, his daughter and two grandchildren agreed.
“Daddy had passed away the Saturday of the (Premium Sale),” Shannon Adams said. “We couldn’t do it last year. 2018 was the last time that we did the Pig Project.”
She said the family wanted to resume the project for the 2020 youth fair.
“My sister and her husband, even though they don’t live here, they’re a very integral part of doing this,” Adams said. “This is a family project and so it was just a matter of, let’s get our bearings, and let’s get it back together, and put all the pieces together to be able to do it.”
Morgan Adams, a Tarleton State University junior, said, “I’m just glad we get to do it in honor of him, because he loved doing this. He loved giving back to people, and especially the Brown County Youth Fair, and helping with the sale. That was Papaw.”
Shannon Adams noted that people want to leave a legacy. “That’s what Daddy’s done,” she said. “He left a legacy and it’s our responsibility to carry that, to continue the work he started.
“It’ll be a happy time. I miss him terribly but I know he’s with me. I try to keep living my life the way he would expect me to live it. I guess you could say I have to live up to the expectations he had for me when he was here.”
The 2020 youth fair and Pig Project will be “a bittersweet time,” Ruth Schwartz said. “Yes it’s sad, but we’re so proud we can continue with it. It will be bittersweet. All the ‘firsts’ have been bittersweet.”
While it will be a hard time, “we’re happy we can continue with it,” Schwartz said.