Since 1941, the West Virginia FFA has netted $1,361,222.78 and it’s all in the name of protein.
The state’s FFA association has held 73 Ham, Bacon, and Egg Show and Sales since the first one was held 74 years ago, at the Daniel Boone Hotel in Charleston. A total of 7,846 hams, 5,760 cuts of bacon, and 4,013 dozen eggs have been sold.
“The sale started as a way to showcase FFA member’s agricultural enterprises and provide an opportunity to have a value-added product auctioned off to consumers representing grocery stores, business, and local and state community members,” said Jason Hughes, State FFA Advisor, West Virginia.
From there the event has flourished and has become an extensive project for the FFA students.
“FFA members involved with the event see the entire process all the way through. The students purchase feeder pigs, provide the animal with feed, water, and medicine until they reach the ideal market weight,” Hughes said. “The market hogs are then slaughtered at an inspected facility and students receive the carcass back to process into retail cuts, and then the hams and bacons are cured with a dry cure mix and smoked.”
Sponsored annually by the Governor’s Office, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, and the West Virginia Department of Education, the Ham, Bacon, and Egg Show and Sales have seen some impressive transactions over the years:
- The first sale in 1941 amounted to a total of $204.82. The prize ham sold for $23.63; the prize bacon for $2.75; and the prize dozen eggs for $2.25.
- The largest sale was held in 1981, with the total sales amounting to $53,624.24.
- The highest price paid for a champion ham was $11,977 by Jack Catalano, owner of the Central Distributing Company. The ham was exhibited by Jerry Hostutler of Hundred in 1975.
- The highest price paid for a champion bacon was $6,400 by Kroger Mid-Atlantic in 2007. The bacon was exhibited by Phillip Dennison of Valley High School.
- The top price for the champion eggs (dozen) was $10,000 by Kroger Mid-Atlantic in 2007. The eggs were exhibited by Kim Riley of Cameron High School.
- Last year, buyers spent $32,228 on 50 hams, 50 cuts of bacon, and 10 dozen eggs.
Hughes said the West Virginia FFA association has worked diligently to keep up with consumer demand over the years.
“The genetics of the swine have changed to meet consumer demands,” Hughes said. “A leaner product is what today’s consumer is looking for compared to the past when the product possessed a lot more fat.”
Hughes does throw caution to other state associations looking to adopt a program like the Ham, Bacon, and Eggs Show and Sales.
“They need to realize it is a lot of work for all involved and a tremendous investment as the local schools that participate all have modern state-of-the-art meat processing facilities,” Hughes said.
This year’s West Virginia FFA Ham, Bacon, and Eggs Show and Sale will be held March 13 in Building 7 of the West Virginia Capitol Complex in Charleston at 7:00 p.m.