19 Jul Country Ham Day at the Kentucky State Fair
In August of each year the Kentucky State Fair is held. Many competitions take place in this 10-day period. Broadbent’s Kentucky State Fair will be among the competitors. On opening day of the fair Country Ham competitions are held. Broadbent’s and other Country Ham producers across the state compete in a commercial class, while a non-commercial class is held for anyone else wanting to compete. Broadbent’s has been blessed to be named Grand Champion of the Country Ham Competition 21 times.
The largest competition for country hams will be found in Cloverville located in the South Wing Exhibit Hall. There will be between 800-900 hams in this year’s competition. This competition will be made up of 4-H students from ages 9-18. Awards will be given in each age group as well as in the Junior and Seniors category. There will be two factors to be judged in this competition. Each student will bring a ham they have cured this year as well as present a speech. This year’s speech topics for the Junior division will be the history of Kentucky Country Ham.
Each year I listen to many speeches as the students prepare for the fair. Even though I have been a part of this business I learn things from the speeches I hear. Here’s a few fun facts of American Folklore I have learned:
Before the invention of electricity, the word country was not included in the name “ham”. There was only one type of ham and that was a dry cured ham. It was simply called “Ham”. It was after electricity entered the picture and refrigerators were invented that the name “country ham” came to be. Country Ham now refers to a ham that is dry cured and does not need refrigeration. “City Ham” refers to a water added ham that will need refrigeration.
Early settlers brought their pigs as well as their dry curing traditions with them when they came to America. As they migrated west, these traditions were brought along. Not all states had climates that would allow these methods to preserve the meat. Ideal climates were found in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri. This is where most Country Hams are made today.
Another fun fact I learned pertains to the salt that goes on a ham. The native Americans referred to the salt as white sand. They would cure their meats with white sand as a way of preserving the meat.
Hog Island in Virginia is quite interesting, but you will have to google that one. We don’t have time to go into it today. We do want to wish the best of luck to everyone competing at this year’s fair. This year’s fair is August 17-27th. Stop by opening day, you will be amazed at all the country hams on display.