Ham-fisted theatrics abound

Producers gather for annual Show-Me Ag Classic
Thursday, February 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:50 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

A crowd of agricultural producers gathered Wednesday for the opening day of the 2005 Show-Me Ag Classic, the largest agricultural trade show in mid-Missouri.

Part of MU’s Ag Sciences Week, the event featured education seminars, a ham auction and the 41st annual Ag Day barbecue. The event gave producers from across the region the opportunity to visit more than 75 booths with representatives from commodity organizations, agri-businesses and government agencies.

The Ag Day Barbecue, a 41-year tradition, allowed students and faculty from the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to sit down with industry representatives and agricultural producers.

“The Ag Day Barbecue serves as a cornerstone for the entire Classic,” said Fred Stemme, communications director for the National Corn Growers Association.

During the event, MU animal science students involved in the Block and Bridle Club auctioned off country-cured hams they have been preparing over the last year.

“This is not only a great fund-raiser for our club, but it is a chance for about 20 students who know nothing about curing hams to get involved and to learn,” said George Jesse, MU Block and Bridle adviser.

This year, 23 students signed up to cure a ham. Nine of the hams were donated by Burger’s Smokehouse, and the other 14 were donated by the MU Meat Lab.

The process started about this time last year. Each student selected a ham to cure and then began trimming and cleaning it. Once the ham was clean, the students rubbed it with a mixture of salt, sugar, black and red pepper and paprika. The hams were then covered and put in a net with the hock end down.

The hams were hung in the Meat Lab cooler for about two months and then taken to a garage to hang for the remaining time.

Greg Rentfrow, an MU animal science research specialist, judged the hams. Rentfrow considered overall appeal, outside color, smoothness, fitting, trim, firmness, meatiness and aroma in rating them. Leroy VanDyke auctioned off the top four hams, and the remaining cuts were sold for $50 each.

Of the four hams auctioned off, the Grand Champion Heavyweight received the highest bid at $500 by Tom Payne, dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

“I think this is a great opportunity for animal science students to learn more about the meat aspect of the industry,” said Matt Ryan, co-chair of the ham sale.

The Show-Me Ag Classic is sponsored by MO-Ag Industries Council, Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Corn Growers Association.

This is the fifth year that the three sponsoring organizations have worked together to organize the event.

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