Ham and politics go hand-in-hand at the State Fair

There has to be something sublimely ironic about the fact that the Governor’s Ham Breakfast attracts so many politicians.

But there they were and, thus, there I was, a veteran political reporter attending the annual event held at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia…for the first time. Somehow, with all the political events I cover each year, I had never made it to the Ham Breakfast at the Fair. I won’t make that mistake again.

You see, the Ham Breakfast has a magnetic attraction to politicians. They all show up. Republicans and Democrats mingle at the same venue, all intent on displaying they are in touch with Missouri’s rural roots. They glad-hand the farmers and folks in attendance, speak to as many potential voters as possible and, yes, talk to us.

Reporters flock to the Ham Breakfast as well. Not just the Capitol Press Corps gang, but all those local reporters, including the hard-working farm broadcasters who year-in, year-out find different angles to report from the Fair. It’s a natural. There isn’t any place else that puts more politicians from different parties in a single place.

Democrat Robin Carnahan is over there. Republican Roy Blunt is over here.

Go to one, get a comment. Got to the other, get a response.

I did more interviews in one hour that I normally due in a few days. I have more stories backed up than planes at O’Hare. Some didn’t even have anything to do with politics. It was nearly political reporter Nirvana.

More than 1,000 attended. So many showed up that organizers began putting up folding chairs outside the Director’s Tent at the State Fair for the overflow crowd. It seems a good indication of the interest in the 2012 elections.

Former State Senator Jim Mathewson presided over the 58th annual event that the Missouri State Fair Foundation uses to raise money for charity. The auction afterward raised $11,100. Those proceeds, combined with revenue from the breakfast, will help fund the State Fair Foundation scholarship program for Missouri youth headed for college.

The auction began with the Grand Champion Ham exhibited by Alainya Schuster of Versailles. The ham was purchased by Murphy Brothers Exposition and Ditzfeld Transfer for $3,500 and then donated to the Missouri 4-H. The Reserve Grand Champion Ham exhibited by Logan Cary of Houston, went to Missouri Electric Cooperatives for $4,750. The ham was given to Governor Nixon. Starline Brass, Inc. purchased the Grand Champion Bacon exhibited by Davis Meat Processing of Jonesburg, for $2,250 and donated it to the 4-H shooting sports program. Starline was also the buyer of the commemorative belt buckle that went for $600.

Kitchen Kraft International joined with the Foundation and awarded two $1,000 scholarships.

The Fair continues through Sunday.

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