52nd Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast & Auction places agriculture, politics and philanthropy on center stage

Posted on Aug 17, 2015
Louisville, KY (August 17, 2015) – The Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast & Auction, a large-scale celebration of the Commonwealth’s deep agricultural roots, returns for its 52nd year as the official kickoff to Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) Day at the Kentucky State Fair. This ticketed event begins at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 27, in the South Wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center and is concluded by a live charitable auction of the state fair’s 2015 Grand Champion Country Ham.

Mark Haney, President of KFB, will host the morning’s ceremonies. Guest speakers Governor Steve Beshear, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will join Haney on center stage to share their thoughts on how to keep agriculture relevant and thriving in both the state and nation. The majority of Kentucky’s General Assembly and several local elected officials will also be in attendance for the breakfast.

52nd Ham Breakfast infographic
These facts and figures illustrate just how large the ham auction has grown since its humble beginnings in 1964.

Anticipating a sellout crowd of 1,500 attendees, KFB is once again preparing huge quantities of food – most of which is provided directly by Kentucky farmers. More than 5,100 eggs, 1,500 half-pints of milk, 30 gallons of sorghum, 20 gallons of honey, 6,000 oranges and 450 pounds of country ham will be served during the meal.

At the conclusion of the breakfast and guest speeches, the focus of this annual event shifts with much pageantry to a live auction of the state fair’s Grand Champion Ham. Miss Kentucky 2015, Clark Davis, will showcase the prize ham, presented on a silver platter and surrounded by fresh-cut roses, to the bidders while an auctioneer calls for their charitable bids.

Miss Kentucky 2014, Ramsey Carpenter (holding the Grand Champion Ham) sits on the front row with winning bidders (left to right) Ryan Bridgeman of Bridgeman Foods, Steve Wilson of Hermitage Farms and Steve Trager of Republic Bank & Trust Company after placing the record-setting $2 million bid. Governor Steve Beshear and Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney complete the front row and are joined in the second row by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and numerous representatives from Kentucky Farm Bureau and Republic Bank.
Miss KY 2014, Ramsey Carpenter (holding the Grand Champion Ham) sits on the front row with winning bidders (left to right) Ryan Bridgeman of Bridgeman Foods, Steve Wilson of Hermitage Farms and Steve Trager of Republic Bank & Trust Company after placing the record-setting $2 million bid. Gov. Steve Beshear and Kentucky Farm Bureau President Mark Haney complete the front row and are joined in the second row by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and numerous representatives from KFB and Republic Bank.

Last year’s $2 million winning bid was the highest offer in the history of the auction. Republic Bank & Trust Co. split the cost of the 2014 prize ham with Hermitage Farms and Bridgeman Foods. Their record-setting bid – all in the name of charity – was for the 15.89-pound Grand Champion Ham produced by Broadbent's B&B Foods of Kuttawa, Kentucky.

As that 2014 bid proved, 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 $739,000.

While such high bids understandably generate a lot of attention and excitement, they also come backed with good intentions. All the money raised from the ham auction is donated directly to the charity of the winning bidder’s choice. Through the 51-year history of the auction KFB has helped raise more than $8.9 million for local charities, educational institutions and philanthropic groups.

Watch the 2014 Kentucky Country Ham Auction and record-setting $2 million dollar winning bid here:

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