FFA holds annual Ham and Bacon sale

PARKERSBURG – Students auctioned a feast fit for a king Friday at the 66th annual Little Kanawha Ham and Bacon sale at the Parkersburg Municipal Building.

The annual event gives Wood County Technical Center students and FFA members an opportunity to showcase their work in meat and poultry and sell at auction those items to the public.

Kari Brown, an agricultural instructor at the Wood County Technical Center, said this year’s event was one of the best in recent years, both in participation and the quality of the products displayed and auctioned.

“We’ve had much higher participation this year. A lot of my FFA members have chosen to participate this year,” she said. “We’ve had really good quality this year. No spoilage or losses this year at all.”

Brown said the student accomplishments are even more impressive because harsh weather this winter made the already long process more challenging.

“The meats have to be kept at a constant 64 percent humidity,” she said. “It was so much colder and dryer, it was hard to keep the humidity up. We also had a lot of snow days the students had to work around.”

Garrett Detamore, a senior at Parkersburg South High School and president of the FFA, said much of the process came down to the final trimming and presentation.

“It’s a lot of very steady handwork,” he said.

Detamore, who said he plans to own his own farm someday, said he believes the lessons learned through this process will benefit him later in life.

“This is my first year with my own pig. I worked in the meat lab last year with other people’s pigs,” he said. “Personally, I like this because of all the meat that goes into my fridge.”

Nineteen-year-old Toni Murphy is a college freshman and said this was her third year in the show and auction.

“Your first year is always a little more difficult until you get the hang of it,” she said. “Trimming is definitely one of the more difficult parts. You always want the best looking ham.”

Brown said most of the more than a dozen students who participated this year are juniors and seniors in high school, but were joined by some 4H members, one of whom is 9 years old.

“It’s a long process and it takes a lot of dedication,” Brown said.

The entries are judged and awarded prizes based on quality and preparation. The items are then auctioned, with the money from each sale going to the student whose item is sold.

On average the meat brings in about $8-$11 a pound, but can sometimes go much higher. The eggs are gathered by students from their flocks usually two or three days before the auction and, depending on quality, can fetch a bid of $50-$350 a dozen. All pieces are inspected and graded to ensure quality.

This year’s judge was Virgil Wilkins, a retired high school agriculture teacher Hundred, W.Va.