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Kuttawa’s Broadbent B&B cures 21st grand champion country ham, fetching record $5 million at state fair charity auction

Country ham cured by Broadbent B&B Food Products.
Broadbent B&B Food Products
Country ham cured by Broadbent B&B Food Products.

A country ham cured by Broadbent B&B Food Products was selected as the “grand champion” at Kentucky State Fair this year, marking the 21st time the company has received the award.

This also marks the 14th time the company has brought to the table a grand champion country ham since Ronny and Beth Drennan assumed ownership of Broadbent in 1999.

Broadbent was founded 90 years prior in Trigg County by Smith and Anna Broadbent. After the Drennans took over, they expanded from one employee to 25 while branching into wholesale, online sales, mail order and retail. They moved the operation to Kuttawa in 2008.

Known for its unique flavor and texture, country ham is typically dry-cured and equalized in salt across the winter and spring before undergoing aging during the summer.

Ronny Drennan said it’s important to continue securing hams in this way to ensure the practice isn’t lost to time, part of why 4-H students visit his facility and attend the ham breakfast.

“Country hams is an old, old tradition,” he said. “It’s been around for thousands of years because it was done before we had refrigeration. The biggest thing is we try to make a quality product without going overboard on the quantity. I don’t want to get so big or turn out so many hams that you can’t control the quality of what you’re selling.”

In pursuit of this quality, Drennan intends to compete for the grand champion distinction each year as long as he remains in the country ham business.

“It’s a longstanding tradition for the producers in the state of Kentucky to go [to the Kentucky State Fair],” he said. “We’ll cure hams, and come time for the fair next year, we’ll try to pick out some hams and go and enter.”

The Kentucky Farm Bureau auctioned the grand champion country ham at its annual ham breakfast this morning to United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft and Kentucky-based Central Bank in a joint bid totalling $5 million, the highest to date. According to previous reporting by WLKY, the pair plan to donate these proceeds to natural disaster relief organizations in the state.

Dustin Wilcox is a television production student at Murray State University. He graduated from Hopkinsville High School in 2019.
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