When I landed my first babysitting jobs around 7th grade, I made maybe $20 per gig, and that involved wiping butts and mopping snot. Instead, I could have been curing ham and stacking cash. Dammit.
This hindsight comes courtesy of the Columbia Missourian, which reports on a prize-winning ham auctioned off last weekend at the Boone County Fair in Sturgeon, Missouri. The meaty maestro behind the creation is one Gentry Duncan, a 13-year-old with an apparent penchant for pork. He says he raised his own pigs for the competition, and plans to use that $1,000 prize to help his family pay bills. (So he’s great at curing ham and he’s selfless? What a kid.)
Gentry’s ham was the overall prize-winner, earning a score of 83 out of a possible 100 points from judges. When that ham subsequently went up on the auction block with a starting price of $500, the bidders went, ahem, ham.
Who is now the proud owner of that porcine prize? Chuck Bayse, a Republican state representative from Rockport. In another curious detail to this porky fable, the Columbia Missourian explains that the ham auction, like the Iowa State Fair, is sort of an unofficial campaign stop for the state’s politicians: “Tracy Gonzalez, Democratic candidate for Division IX circuit court judge, also purchased a ham for $425, which she said was at the higher end of her budget. Division XI Judge Josh Devine purchased a ham for $250.”
I think there’s a joke to be made here about pork-barrel spending, but that might be hamming it up a bit.
Now that we have the feel-good ham news out of the way, I must apprise you of the week’s second-most-important ham story. Unfortunately, this one is a bit of a downer: Smithfield Foods has shuttered the last remaining smokehouse making genuine Smithfield ham in Smithfield, Virginia. This is the pork-world equivalent of Detroit closing auto factories, so ingrained is ham in the town’s identity. This weekend, pour out some bacon grease for the Smithfield plant.