In 1953, the first Governor’s Ham Breakfast was held at the State Fair in west-central Missouri’s Sedalia. That would have been around the time when Democratic Governor Phil Donnelly was in office.
The finishing touches are being put on Thursday’s 67th annual breakfast – an event where you can find hundreds of Missouri political figures and thousands of Missourians there to rub elbows with them. State Fair Marketing Director Kari Mergen tells Missourinet all 1,000 meal tickets have been sold.
“Some of our State Fair arena events will go into the thousands,” Mergen says. “Our office helps to coordinate the Ham Breakfast event and we coordinate a lot of the other special events that happen on the fairgrounds. This is one of the top events.”
Plenty of standing room only tickets for spectators are still available for $10.
The breakfast is especially popular during a presidential election year when so many candidates are running.
“We kind of joke about that internally sometimes ‘It’s a presidential election year – it’s probably going to sell out.’ This year is not a presidential election year but it did sell out,” Mergen says. “It doesn’t always sell out but it sells really well. I can safely say I think in the 900s even on a slow year. I think that’s just a fact that Missouri agriculture is a great group of people that want to come together and the State Fair is certainly a great place for that. The governor is a great advocate of agriculture. I think people want him to come to the breakfast to support him and support Missouri agriculture is definitely evident in the fact that the event is so well attended.”
What does it take to serve breakfast to 1,000 people? It’s not a small task for the catering service. About 2,000 eggs, 5,000 ounces of ham, 200 pounds of hash browns and 100 gallons of coffee will be used for what some consider to be the most important meal of the day. Several Missouri partners provide some of the food.
Some of the proceeds go to the State Fair Foundation and agriculture scholarships. Mergen says the auction portion brings in big bucks.
“Actually last year, all three of those set a record, she says. “Last year’s Grand Champion ham sold for $16,000. The reserve sold for $10,000 and the bacon sold for $9,000.”
The tickets for the breakfast do include fair admission for the day. Mergen says she thinks the event helps to boost fair attendance for the day.
The breakfast starts at 8 a.m. Thursday at the Fair Director’s tent.
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