Two prize-winning country hams, including one from Mt. Juliet, were sold at auction Monday for $9,500 at the third annual Future Farmers of America-sponsored Ham Breakfast at the Tennessee State Fair.
The state’s seven announced gubernatorial candidates got much of the attention at the $30-per-plate event attended by an audience of about 600 community, business and political leaders.
For the first time since announcing, all seven candidates, including five Republicans and two Democrats, appeared on stage together to answer questions from FFA members on topics that included agriculture, education and the economy.
Each candidate was given the opportunity to make an opening statement, answer questions presented by FFA members and make closing comments.
Republican candidates attending included former state Sen. Mae Beavers, House Speaker Beth Harwell, 6th District Congresswoman Diane Black, former state Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd and Nashville businessman Bill Lee. Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh were the two announced Democrats in attendance.
Farm Credit Mid-America bought the first State Fair champion ham auctioned, a trim-style ham placed in the fair’s annual ham competition by Kody Kimbrough, of Pulaski, for $5,000, while the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, out bid others to buy the second ham, a packing-house trim-style ham cured by Scott Dabbs, of Mt. Juliet, for $4,500.
Both champion hams came from family curing operations with a tradition of winning the country ham competition at the Tennessee State Fair.
Kimbrough is the grandson of Betsa and David Bolden, of Lynnville, champion ham winners last year. Dabbs is the son-in-law of Ed Rice Jr., owner of Rice Country Hams in Mt. Juliet. Rice and his late father have won the State Fair ham competition multiple times in the past several decades.
Proceeds from the sale of the hams and from tickets sold for the breakfast will be contributed to the FFA Foundation to help fund a number of programs that serve the organization’s youth membership, according to event organizer Chelsea Rose, Tennessee FFA Foundation executive director.
John Rose, who chairs the Tennessee State Fair Association board, a volunteer nonprofit organization responsible for producing the State Fair annually, said the FFA breakfast provides a “unique opportunity to showcase our state’s most talented youth to many of the state’s most prominent business and community leaders and, in the case of this year’s event, our next governor.”
“We are so pleased to help support the Future Farmers of America with the ham breakfast, and we are particularly proud of what the FFA and its members contribute to our state and nation,” Rose said.
The Tennessee State Fair, held annually in Nashville at the Nashville Fairgrounds on Wedgewood Avenue, opened Sept. 8 for a 10-day run and closed Sunday. For more information about the State Fair, visit tnstatefair.org.