The 2021 4-H Country Ham Contest was held on Aug. 19 at the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville. There were 14 youth from Caldwell County that competed in the contest by entering a ham and giving a 3-5-minute speech. The 4-H’ers are scored on their ham and their speech, as well as a combination of both.

Country ham has been a food tradition in Kentucky and throughout the southeast for hundreds of years. The Kentucky 4-H Country Ham Project continues the tradition of the country ham. The project began in the late 1990s with fewer than 40 4-H’ers to currently more than 745 4-Hers from, more than 76 Kentucky counties.

Caldwell County 4-H’ers are blessed to have a producer that is willing to lead them in this project. Beth and Ronnie Drennan of Broadbent’s B & B in Kuttawa share their time and re-sources to give our 4-H’ers this opportunity.

The project begins in the cold winter months of January and ends in August at the Kentucky State Fair. The project consist of youth curing two hams and competing in the Speech Contest held at the state fair. Throughout the project, the 4-H’ers learn about food production and how the country ham fits into Kentucky’s food heritage.

Caldwell County had several 4-H’Hers that placed in the top three at the state contest in the Smoked Division. Winners include: Avery Ritchey, 3rd place, 2005 Ham; Laken White, 3rd place 2005 Speech; Knolin Lewis, 2nd place 2006 Ham, 3rd place Speech, and 2nd place Overall; Abbey Gill, 3rd place 2007 Ham and 3rd place Smoked Overall; Noah Bailey, 1st place 2008 Ham, 1st place Speech, 1st place Overall and 2008 Age Division Champion; Abbi Drennan, 3rd place 2008 Ham, 3rd place, Speech and 2nd place Overall; and Oliver Haller, 2nd place Ham.

Blue Ribbon winners included; Harper Ritchey, Landen Mason, and Paycen Rogers. Red Ribbon winners were: Sutton Ritchey, Emma Koscho, Oliver Haller, and Hadlie Rogers.

There were four 4-H’ers who were unable to attend the fair and compete in the Speech Contest due to COVID-19. These included: Makenna Chambliss, Jaxon Wynn, Jacob Rea and Ben Jones. They were given the option to video their speech and send their ham to the fair to be judged and each of their hams received a Blue Ribbon.

Anyone who would like more information about the 4-H Country Ham Project or other 4-H opportunities, contact Rhonda Jewell at the Extension Office at 270-365-2787 or rjewell@uky.edu.