August 25, 2000 | By: Mark Eclov

Country ham judging has been added to a long and varied list of competitions available to 4-H members at the Kentucky State Fair.

"We were actually approached by the Kentucky Ham producers," said Benji Mikel, Extension muscle foods specialist in the UK College of Agriculture. "They wanted to insure that we have people growing up who understand how and why we produce country hams."

Mikel added that country hams are still a small industry in Kentucky and more people need to know that country ham has a tremendous potential as a value-added product.

This year's first 4-H country ham competition attracted 38 contestants from five counties. Six awards were presented in two divisions including a $400 prize for the over-all competition grand champion. All the contestants had the option of taking their hams home or selling them for $20 each.

"I was very pleased with this first contest," said Mikel. "The Extension agents I targeted to help with this first try really got some good young people involved. The agents also showed that this contest is a lot of fun as well as educational."

This year's top ham was produced by Caroline Crowley from Hart County. Beyond the monetary reward, she thought the entire process was a fun and worthwhile learning experience.

"You really have to mind your p's and q's and do your work," said Crowley. "This was the first time I have ever done anything like this and I feel like I have learned so much."

Crowley was also introduced to the guests of the prestigious State Fair ham breakfast and auction held August 24 at the Kentucky State Fair.

Other winners from the first 4-H Ham Judging contest included Brennan Smith, Hart County, Junior Presentation Grand Prize; Brian Lovell, Barren County, Junior Presentation Reserve Winner; Georgianna Anderson, Lincoln County, Senior Presentation Grand Prize; Miranda Terry, Barren County, Senior Presentation Reserve Prize; Carrie Ann Tilghman, Barren County, Ham Confirmation Grand Champion; Grady Cofield, Christian County, Ham Confirmation Reserve Champion; Caroline Crowley, Hart County, Overall Competition Grand Champion; and Rhiannon Oberhelman, Allen County, Overall Competition Reserve Champion.


Benji Mikel (859) - 257 - 7550