Looking Back 1976 – 1986

Ham Festivals through the years

This Chronological History was made available courtesy of the Cadiz Record.



Though the Ham Festival grew from Farm City Week, pork played a role in  October celebrations during the Bicentennial Year.  Trigg County  students competed in the All American Hog Poster Contest for the October Porkfest.  52 posters were submitted with Byron Harper taking first  prize.  Fourth grade winners were Eric Harrison and Paul White.  Fifth  Graders Craig Mize, Danny Stewart  and Anne Burkeen were also recognized, while the sixth grade saw Chris  Carr, Jeff Oakley and Phillip Merrick win.  Prizes were $5, $3 and $2  for the top three posters.


County Extension Agent John Fourqurean organized the First Official Trigg  County Country Ham  Festival in 1977.  “Trigg County has always been noted for country ham,  so a country ham festival is in order to bring the county united  recognition.”

The County Extension Homemakers launched the first dessert recipe bake off, and a pageant was held to “crown the Miss Trigg County who will reign  over the festival.”  Tracey Baker was the first winner of the coveted  crown.

Cadiz Mayor W.J. Hopson challenged then-sheriff Zelner Cossey to a tricycle  race, with Representative Ramsey Morris to challenge the winner.  School Superintendent Tom Vinson also raced.  Cossey was crowned the victor of the race where the peddlers were compelled to chew tobacco without  spitting.  “I am not sure if Tom Vinson has forgiven Vocational Ag  teacher Daniel Hale  who made up the rules of the race.”

The 4H club held a pet contest, and ham and biscuit samples were  distributed, along with concerts, greased pig contests, arts and crafts  and a square dance.  The Bank of Cadiz also conducted a pumpkin contest.

Charities found the famous Trigg County generosity was in full force 30 years  ago, with the Cystic  Fibrosis Foundation holding games of skill.  The Trigg County Hospital  survived in part from a “Save Our Hospital” public auction.

One event that was relegated to the past was an “Old Fashioned Hog Killing Display.”

Robbie Flood won the first country ham contest, and Trigg County High defeated Russellville by a  score of 14-8 in an overtime thriller.


Now an annual event, the Ham Festival was in full swing in 1978.  The 4H’s pet show was held over for  another year along with a rocking chair marathon

The Rural Olympics pitted young farmers against each other in a number of  barnyard chores, while the FFA conducted the same event featuring  celebrities in the Superstar Race.

Pro wrestlers competed against one another with Tamayo Soto, Dutch Mantell, Ken Lucas and Chief  Thundercloud representing the best of their federation and wowing fans with REAL wrestling.

The Ham Fest Auction benefited the John L. Street library, while inclement  weather forced the Punt, Pass and Kick event to be held after the Ham  Festival.

Crystal White earned the title of Miss Trigg County.

The Cadiz Record Reporter Kathy Whitson braved cool damp October weather to cover the event.  “I watched and covered my first Country Ham Festival  with a reporters notebook and pen in one hand, and a ham-and-biscuit in  the other, with three bright yellow helium balloons tied to my camera.”  Trigg County was defeated in the second Pigskin Classic by a 6-0 score  against Murray.


Pomp and pageantry dominated the Ham Festival of ’79.  In addition to the  Miss Trigg County event, a Little Folks pageant picked the cream of  Trigg County’s nursery school class.

Edsels and the 101st Airborne Marching Band joined a parade along a splendidly decorated street  and the Gateway Garden Club’s Flower Show.

Liz Fourqurean was crowned Miss Trigg County and Pink “Tiny” Guier, Jr. won his first Country Ham Contest.

The Rocking Chair Marathon sparked a scandal, though the archive does not specify what the debate  entailed, or the eventual outcome.  The farm chore Superstar Contest was won by Skip Pisa and Coach Jim Wallace.


The new decade brought more children’s pageants with Little Mr. And Miss Trigg County, while the  Trigg County Chapter of the National Secretaries Association sponsored the Ham Festival Squire and Maiden of the Ham Fest.

The Trigg County Farmer’s Bank hosted a contest to put a Ham Festival sign  in front of their bank, which is now the location of the Trigg County  Fiscal Court Annex…  “Put Your Name in Lights” saw signs hung under the  thermometer.

The Lion’s Club raffled a “tole painted washboard cabinet,” while the  Garden Club raffled a stereo complete with phonograph and cassette  player.  A modern piece of equipment, it did away with the 8-track  player.

Chris Choate won a “Mello Yello Chug-a-lug” contest, while the Country Ham title was secured by  Bayliss Sumner.  Audrey Carr was named Miss Trigg County, Mayfield stomped the Wildcats 40-8.


With the Ham Festival growing every year, organizers saw fit to charge a “Booth and Activity Fee” of  $10.

Action permeated the Festival with a Firemen’s Contest, a helicopter  demonstration from Ft. Campbell, a falconry display, black powder  shooting and hot air balloon rides.

Organizers hoped to gain exposure on NBC’s Today Show, but no word if Willard Scott made it or not, however.

Flushed with success from the washboard cabinet raffle, the Lion’s Club raffled a stuffed lion covered in cash.  Estimates put the pasted-on bills’  total amount at nearly $25.

Circuit Court Judge Bill Cunningham served the people in 1981 as Commonwealth Attorney.  He  visited the John L. Street Library to sign copies of his new book, Flames in the Wind.

Kim Butkovic was crowned Miss Trigg County, while Tiny Guier took home his second ham title.

“This has been the biggest and best Ham Festival, but 1982 will surpass any of its kind,” said John  Fourqurean, ambitiously planning the next year’s event.

Trigg County continued its Ham Festival slump with a 21-0 loss to Mayfield.


Despite what Executive Committee Coordinator Ken Wright called 11 months of  planning and moving  the Ham Festival to the second weekend of October, an epidemic of  Pac-Man Fever gripped the ’82 festival.  The Trigg County Farmers’ Bank  used a Pac-Man drawing to illustrate its Money in the Haystack contest.  Darlene Keahey saw her name at the top of the High €”Score Board in a  Pac-Man Playoff.  After munching dots and crunching ghosts, Darlene was  crowned Pac-Man Champion with 26,060 points.  She was given the award of a $70 Pac-Man home game.

Louisville Mayor, and one-time gubernatorial hopeful Harvey Sloan visited the  festival and saw the debut of the Ham Fest mascots, Henry Ham and Miss  Triggy.

Miss Triggy has remained a fixture at the festival, but Henry joined the Dodo in the realm of extinction.

In addition to the usual events, the Cadiz Barber Shop sponsored a  Checkers Tournament, while the Trigg County 4H Club conducted a Bike  Rodeo.

Rain could not stop the Pac-Man tournament, though it did cancel a skydiving event and the tennis  tournament.  Boyce Braboy’s ham was named grand champion, while Frieda Bryant donned the Miss Trigg County sash.


NFL Sack-Master and Cadiz Native Coy Bacon was named to be the First Grand  Marshal of the Ham  festival in 1983.  Having played at defensive end for the Los Angeles  Rams, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins, he was a three-time Pro Bowler. With more innovative events, the 4H held a “Sack-a-pig” contest and a pedal tractor pull, for those too small to  pull a load with a full-size tractor.

Other new events included “Guess Miss Triggy,” duck and goose calling and a logging display.

The Trigg County Women’s Club conducted a tour of the County’s finest homes while the Trigg County Self Help Group raffled a quilt.

Current City Council Member Manuel Brown competed in a Hog-Calling Contest, eventually won by Dorothy Sumner.

Bacon was not the only VIP attending the Ham Festival  in 1983.  Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown paid a call on the town of  Cadiz as well.

The Cadiz Record’s Editor Richard Wimsatt was most impressed by a camp of  mountain men.  “Hatchet throwing and fine music were enjoyed by  everyone.”

Carole Marie Braboy was named Miss Trigg County while Douglas Freeman’s ham was named  Grand Champion.


1984 was the year of “The Biscuit.”  The first Trigg County Biscuit acknowledged by the Guinness  Book of World Records was six scrumptious feet in diameter and was prepared by Joan White of the Cadiz Restaurant.

LBL employees Kathryn Coon Harper and Cindy Womble created the first  official Ham Festival Poster. Contests that year included pig weight  guessing, tobacco spitting and a grocery-sacking contest, in  addition to the usual events.  An ultra-light aircraft fly-in and LBL  Homeplace Demo entertained guests at the Ham Festival.

A Mrs. Ham Fest pageant began for married women over age 23.

Cadiz Record Columnist Keith S. Venable said, “With most of our entertainment now coming from the  big cities by way of television, the Ham Festival gives us the  opportunity to look at ourselves and our local art and achievement.   What we see gives us a good feeling.”  Bill H. Sumner’s country ham was  declared the champion, while Virginia Alexander presented John  Fourqurean with a plaque recognizing his founding of the Ham Festival  and continuing involvement.


It was a festival for Cabbage Patch Dolls and weekend duffers.  Charlie  Bender of the Trigg County Golf Club held a 36-hole golf tournament at  the Boots Randolph Golf Curse.  Out of five flights of golfers, $3,000  went to the top winners.

The Cadiz Record held a “First Annual” Mr. and Miss Cabbage Patch Doll  contest.  Calling it the “first  annual” may have been a bit ambitious, as the trend seemed to wane after 1985.  Former Kentucky Wildcats Coach Joe B. Hall was named grand  marshal of the parade, while Plomer Wilson’s ham was called the best.  Jennifer Harper was named Miss Trigg County.

In a new policy, Main Street was closed to vehicular traffic for the Festival.  Ham Fest Public Relations  director described the crowd as “a sea of people” on Downtown Main Street.  The Ham Biscuit topped 10.5 feet in diameter.


Former Kentucky Governor and then Senator Wendell Ford paid a call to the people of Trigg County at  the Festival of ’86.  He was joined by Representatives Ramsey Morris and Fred Curd as well as Senator Greg Higdon.

As the tenth anniversary of the Country Ham Festival, a Fair Section of  the festival was held. “This is a big event.  The Department of  Agriculture-shows and fairs will have agricultural and home economics  classes with prizes offered,” said John Fourqurean.

Cadiz Record Columnist Keith S. Venable presided over the parade.  Shriner  clowns and go-kart races made for a fun festival for kids of all ages.

Ft. Campbell had a military hospital display, while the Hamtown Restaurant  held the first “Oink Talent  Contest.”  Kentucky Machine hosted a Pork Recipe Cook-off.  Shady Lawn  Nursing Home conducted hearing tests at the Senior Center and the  American Cancer Society worked a fundraising booth.

Attendance was believed to have topped 25,000 guests after an article in Southern  Living Magazine profiled the Ham Festival.  Doug Freeman’s ham was the  winner of the 1986 contest.

Read More history


Follow us on Facebook