Ham and bacon and summer sausage, oh my


Meat competition judging begins Thursday

By Hope Lecchi - [email protected]



From left, Missouri State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture Richard Fordyce, State Fair Commissioner former state Sen. James Mathewson and State Fair Commissioner Barbara Hayden look over a judging sheet at the Country Ham Contest Wednesday morning in the Agriculture Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The four, who were not judges in the contest, were discussing the qualities judges look for in an award-winning ham.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

From left, Madison Brown, Aaron Breheim and Kayla Davis prepare their slabs of bacon prior to placing the cure or rub on the meat. The Smithton FFA students were three of the 27 students from the school who entered either bacon or a cured ham at this year’s State Fair.


Photo courtesy of Smithton Schools

Cured bacon slabs hang in the meat locker in the Agriculture Building on Wednesday morning. The bacon, mild cured hams, summer sausage and jerky will be judged beginning at 10 a.m. today.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Brittany Hall, trims her cured bacon in the Smithton High School cafeteria in preparation to have it smoked. Hall is a graduate of Smithton and a FFA member.


Photo courtesy of Smithton Schools

Some of the 252 youth division hams await judging in the Country Hams Contest at the Missouri State Fair. According to Missouri State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans, the judges look for eight specific criteria when judging the hams. It would likely take them the entire day to judge the number of hams entered this year.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce, left and State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans discuss the schedule of events for the ham, bacon, summer sausage and jerky competition during the Fair on Wednesday morning in the Agriculture Building on the fairgrounds.


Hope Lecchi | Democrat

One of the many annual highlights at the Missouri State Fair is the Governor’s Ham Breakfast.

While many people come to catch a handshake from an elected official or candidate running for office, others come for one thing and one thing only: the food.

Where that food is produced is another highlight for many who attend the Fair, and especially the contestants who enter the ham, bacon, summer sausage and jerky contests.

“There’s a lot at stake in this competition,” Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans said Wednesday morning. “I don’t know if a lot of people realize that or not but the champion and the grand champion from the competition are auctioned at the Governor’s Breakfast each year so a lot is riding on these hams.”

Last year Wyatt Stafford’s winning ham in the youth division sold for $6,500, which was donated to the Missouri 4-H by the buyers, Ditzfeld Container and Trash Service and Murphy Brothers Exposition.

That amount is a lot of bacon no matter how you slice it.

“For my students, curing hams or bacon is an opportunity to learn the ag industry in a fairly easy way,” said Matt Bax, Smithton FFA advisor and vocational agriculture instructor. “They have the opportunity to take away a better understanding of the process from beginning to end and they receive hands-on experience of how it works.

“It’s a skill they can take and use their entire life if they want to,” he added.

With 259 hams entered in the youth division of this year’s Fair, judges will spend most of the day selecting the winners from the best of the best.

The judges are experts in their field, according to Rosenkrans, who said some of the individuals had doctorates in meat science from the University of Missouri-Columbia, while others had years of experience owning and operating meat lockers across the state and midwest.

“The judges have a set of eight criteria they use when judging the hams,” Rosenkrans commented. “They look at everything from the firmness and the meatiness of the ham to how it is fitted and trimmed.

“Even things like the eye appeal and the aroma are factors they look at,” he added.

Rosenkrans explained to Missouri State Fair Commissioners, former state Sen. Jim Mathewson and Barbara Hayden, the importance of the aroma factor.

“Many of the students who enter their hams will have competed earlier at local and county fairs,” Rosenkrans said. “When a ham is judged they use an ice pick and make three small holes in the hams so they can smell the aroma they have.

“What they don’t realize is that after they sit for a month or so between those fairs and the State Fair is that a lot of the aroma can escape,” he added. “I always tell them to prepare two hams, one for the local competition and one for the State Fair because it really can make a difference in the outcome.”

Tip such as that are ones Bax said he hopes to pass on to his students. Bax had 27 students who prepared hams or bacon to enter at this year’s Fair.

“Before I started teaching I had never cured a ham or bacon before,” Bax said. “It was something I learned with my students as a class and FFA project. Now my family cures all that we use at home there. It’s not a difficult process and it the taste is something that I can control depending on the amount of salt that is pulled out.”

The competition is something that is open to both young and old, according to Rosenkrans.

“We do have a lot more young people who enter and that’s something we like to see and encourage,” Rosenkrans said proudly. “We really like to see the youth get involved because it’s a skill they can have and take with them for years and generations to come.”

From left, Missouri State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture Richard Fordyce, State Fair Commissioner former state Sen. James Mathewson and State Fair Commissioner Barbara Hayden look over a judging sheet at the Country Ham Contest Wednesday morning in the Agriculture Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The four, who were not judges in the contest, were discussing the qualities judges look for in an award-winning ham.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_tsd081116bacon1-1.jpgFrom left, Missouri State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans, Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture Richard Fordyce, State Fair Commissioner former state Sen. James Mathewson and State Fair Commissioner Barbara Hayden look over a judging sheet at the Country Ham Contest Wednesday morning in the Agriculture Building on the Missouri State Fairgrounds. The four, who were not judges in the contest, were discussing the qualities judges look for in an award-winning ham. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

From left, Madison Brown, Aaron Breheim and Kayla Davis prepare their slabs of bacon prior to placing the cure or rub on the meat. The Smithton FFA students were three of the 27 students from the school who entered either bacon or a cured ham at this year’s State Fair.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_tsd081116bacon3-1.jpgFrom left, Madison Brown, Aaron Breheim and Kayla Davis prepare their slabs of bacon prior to placing the cure or rub on the meat. The Smithton FFA students were three of the 27 students from the school who entered either bacon or a cured ham at this year’s State Fair. Photo courtesy of Smithton Schools

Cured bacon slabs hang in the meat locker in the Agriculture Building on Wednesday morning. The bacon, mild cured hams, summer sausage and jerky will be judged beginning at 10 a.m. today.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_tsd081116bacon2-1.jpgCured bacon slabs hang in the meat locker in the Agriculture Building on Wednesday morning. The bacon, mild cured hams, summer sausage and jerky will be judged beginning at 10 a.m. today. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Brittany Hall, trims her cured bacon in the Smithton High School cafeteria in preparation to have it smoked. Hall is a graduate of Smithton and a FFA member.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_tsd081116bacon4-1.jpgBrittany Hall, trims her cured bacon in the Smithton High School cafeteria in preparation to have it smoked. Hall is a graduate of Smithton and a FFA member. Photo courtesy of Smithton Schools

Some of the 252 youth division hams await judging in the Country Hams Contest at the Missouri State Fair. According to Missouri State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans, the judges look for eight specific criteria when judging the hams. It would likely take them the entire day to judge the number of hams entered this year.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_tsd081116bacon5-1.jpgSome of the 252 youth division hams await judging in the Country Hams Contest at the Missouri State Fair. According to Missouri State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans, the judges look for eight specific criteria when judging the hams. It would likely take them the entire day to judge the number of hams entered this year. Hope Lecchi | Democrat

Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce, left and State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans discuss the schedule of events for the ham, bacon, summer sausage and jerky competition during the Fair on Wednesday morning in the Agriculture Building on the fairgrounds.
http://sedaliademocrat.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_tsd081116bacon6-1.jpgMissouri Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce, left and State Fair Meat Superintendent Charlie Rosenkrans discuss the schedule of events for the ham, bacon, summer sausage and jerky competition during the Fair on Wednesday morning in the Agriculture Building on the fairgrounds. Hope Lecchi | Democrat
Meat competition judging begins Thursday

By Hope Lecchi

[email protected]

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.

Sedalia Democrat

Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.

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