For those unfamiliar with the annual Lowndes County Ham & Egg Show and Sale scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, they may think that organizers and participants have only been busy preparing for the event for the past week.
And that’s true. They have been busy: 60 cured hams arrived Friday; contestants picked up their hams and have readied them during the days leading up to Tuesday’s judging; many contestants are trimming their hams for an attractive display; the Civic Center is prepared for the event, etc.
But the real work for the Ham & Egg show started last September, says Jake Price of the Lowndes County Extension Service. Then, contestants brought the pigs they raised or the live hogs they purchased to Price, who carried them to Fort Valley. First, he transported 20 pigs, later another group of pigs, to Fort Valley where they were butchered.
Other meats — bacon, chops, etc., are returned at the time, but the hams are cured at Fort Valley by a team of Lowndes County ham & egg show regulars.
Years ago, ham & egg regulars raised their hogs, slaughtered their hogs, butchered them then cured them for judging and sale. But that process changed several years ago, Price says. Since the hams are sold, usually for hundreds of dollars, to the highest bidder, for human consumption, the meats must be butchered and cured in an approved meat facility such as the one in Fort Valley.
It is only one aspect of the Lowndes County Ham & Egg Show and Sale’s ability to survive and adapt through the years. At the time of its inception, in 1950, numerous Georgia counties hosted ham & egg shows. These shows were intended as a way for the state’s black farmers to highlight the quality of their livestock while businessmen offered their support for the African-American farms.
For a few decades, ham & egg shows were annual events in several Georgia counties. As the years passed, the shows vanished one by one from Georgia counties as surely as the modern vanishing of black family farms.
Eventually, Lowndes became the only county to continue with a ham & egg show. Several years ago, the loss of African-American farms and the aging of black farmers nearly ended the Lowndes show, too, but organizers reached out to youths through 4-H and other organizations. The Lowndes show survived and continues to thrive.
This week’s event represents the 63rd Annual Lowndes County Ham & Egg Show and Sale.
With 60 hams and an undetermined number of egg entries expected, Price says the show continues going strong.
The 63rd Annual Lowndes County Ham & Egg Show and Sale is scheduled for judging, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, with a special presentation scheduled for 11:30 a.m.; and the sale/auction scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 20, Lowndes County Civic Center.