The 64th annual Governor's Ham Breakfast, held Thursday morning, attracted more than a thousand politically-motivated people, office holders (and hopefuls), along with local and state officials to the Missouri State Fair Director's Tent for a morning of great food, an auction and remarks from Jay Nixon in his last Ham Breakfast as governor.

Nixon noted that he has attended the State Fair for 30 years in a row, and the event is always a yearly highlight for he and his wife Georganne.

Randy Kirby

He also noted that the backbone of Missouri's economy is agriculture. “It's what brings home the bacon, literally across this state, economically” he said.

Nixon also said he spent a lot of time with farm families during difficult times, as he did in 2009, when farmers suffered a “double whammy” – record flooding, then a drought. “But we worked to make sure in 75 counties that didn't hurt our farmers, and folks fought back.

In 2011, flooding damaged levees across the Missouri River, especially northwest Missouri. “I remember as the water was rising, I brought the executive committee of the Missouri Laity and Dream District to my office, and I looked them all in the eye, and I said, 'we're going to rebuild every single one of those levees and protect that farmland in northwest Missouri,' and I'm here to tell you, we did,” Gov. Nixon said.

He also mentioned the 2012 drought. “So in a matter of days, we put together a rapid response program to help farmers and ranchers drill or deepen wells, and get water to their crops and livestock, and in 90 days, we completed 5,000 projects in all corners of our state,” he recalled. “Bottom line, at the end of those 5,000 projects, prices stabilized, the number of farms went forward, and we're still number three in the country on cow-calf production.”

Jim Mathewson served as emcee, a job he has mastered over the years by coralling people to get in the tent and begin the program.

The auction, led by Dick Hutchison, began with the Grand Champion Ham, exhibited by Quynten Cary of California. The ham was purchased by Ditzfeld Container and Trash Service and Murphy Brothers Exposition for $7,000 and was donated to Missouri 4-H.

The Reserve Grand Champion Ham, exhibited by Deb Cary of California, went to Kansas City Power and Light for $7,000, and was donated to Missouri FFA.

The Grand Champion Bacon, exhibited by Center Locker of Center, sold for $7,500 to Starline Brass, and was donated to Missouri FFA.

The commemorative belt buckle was purchased for $1,100 by Jim and Doris Mathewson. The First Lady’s Pie was auctioned with funds allotted for an Agriculture Education Endowment. It was purchased by Starline Brass for $5,000.

The total amount raised from the auction equaled $27,600. Proceeds from the auction and breakfast will support the Missouri State Fair Foundation for projects, including youth scholarships and fairgrounds improvements.

An additional item, a Henry Rifle donated by FCS Financial, was included in the auction with proceeds benefitting Missouri 4-H. The rifle sold to Starline Brass for $10,000.

Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce noted the importance of youth leadership in Missouri's agriculture. “We are the number one industry in the state of Missouri, and if we are going to continue to stay at that position, we are going to have to do everything it takes to continue to develop leadership in our young people, continue to ignite that passion that they have for agriculture and continue to support them,” Fordyce said, adding that “the most important thing we raise may be our young people.”

Special music, sponsored by AgriMissouri and Missouri Grown, entertained those in attendance, which included  State Fair Director Mark Wolfe, State Fair Foundation Chairman Bill Jackson, all the State Fair Commissioners, state and local elected officials and numerous other agriculture leaders and Fair supporters.

A variety of events are still scheduled for the final weekend of the Missouri State Fair, including two Pepsi Grandstand Concerts. Red Dirt Country Night with the Randy Rogers Band, Jason Boland & The Stragglers and Stoney LaRue will entertain the audience starting at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night. Saturday, Aug. 20 Lady Antebellum and Kelsea Ballerini will perform at 7:30 p.m. The 2016 Missouri State Fair High Roller Classic Auto Races will close out the Fair beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23, in the Pepsi Grandstand.

The 2016 Missouri State Fair, themed “See What Crops Up," is currently underway through Aug. 21 in Sedalia. For more information about competitions and other events, visit, follow the Fair on Facebook and Twitter, or call 1-800-422-FAIR (3247).