For the 50th consecutive year, the tradition and excitement of the Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast & Auction comes alive during the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville, KY. This large-scale celebration of the Commonwealth’s deep agricultural roots fills the halls of the Kentucky Exposition Center’s South Wing with the welcoming aroma of a fresh, country-style breakfast to kick off Kentucky Farm Bureau Day at the fair. The ticketed event begins at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22, and is followed by a live charity auction of the state’s 2013 Grand Champion Country Ham.
Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney will host the morning’s ceremonies. Guest speakers Governor Steve Beshear, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Rand Paul, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will join Haney on center stage to share insights on the political efforts required to keep agriculture thriving in the state and nation. Approximately 60 other local, state and national elected officials will also be in attendance for the breakfast.
With a sellout crowd of 1,600 attendees anticipated, Kentucky Farm Bureau is once again preparing huge quantities of food. More than 5,400 eggs, 1,600 half-pints of milk, 30 gallons of sorghum, 20 gallons of honey, 6,400 oranges and 450 pounds of country ham – most of which is provided directly by Kentucky farmers – will be served by the end of the meal.
At the conclusion of the breakfast and guest speeches, the focus of this annual event will shift with much pageantry to a live auction of the state fair’s grand champion ham. The prize ham, garnished with roses and nestled on a silver platter, will be showcased to the bidders by Miss Kentucky 2013, Jenna Day, while the auctioneer calls for their charitable bids.
The auction’s humble beginnings – a respectable $124 winning bid at the first event in 1964 – have grown exponentially in recent years. The average price of the auctioned ham over the last 10 years is now $535,000. Last year’s $300,000 winning bid was the fourth-highest offer ever from a single bidder, and the fifth-highest bid in the auction’s 49-year history. Mark Lynn & Associates of Louisville bid on and won the 17.62-pound ham produced by Scott Hams of Greenville, KY.
Such high prices come with good intentions, too, as all the money raised from the ham auction is donated to the charity of the winning bidder’s choice. Though no goal is set for the ham’s top bid each year, Kentucky Farm Bureau has helped raise more than $6.5 million for local charities, educational institutions and philanthropic groups through the auction.