Paducah will play host to the country ham industry this weekend as the National Country Ham Association holds its annual meeting.
According to Candace Cansler, executive director of the Conover, N.C-based NCHA, representatives from 14 country ham member companies will participate in the three-day event at the Courtyard Paducah West. A board of directors meeting opens the annual event this afternoon followed by an evening welcome reception.
Participants will tour Harper's Country Hams in Clinton on Friday and B&B Food Products in Kuttawa on Saturday.
A ham competition will be judged Friday night, with winners announced Saturday. Professors from several universities, including the University of Kentucky, Mississippi State, Georgia State and North Carolina State ,will serve as judges for the competition. The hams are judged on a variety of things including taste, overall appearance, color and smell.
"They take it really, really seriously," said Cansler of the competition participants. A country ham is a particular variety of cured ham, and adheres to certain specifications set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. There are many variations, some depending on where the ham is produced, Cansler said.