Smithfield’s 34th Annual Ham & Yam Festival This Saturday

The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation will host the 34th annual Ham & Yam Festival on Saturday, May 5th from 9:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. in Downtown Smithfield.

A full schedule of events will attract thousands of people to Downtown Smithfield, where the festival occupies several blocks.  Craft and commercial vendors line the streets, food vendors offer a variety of menu items featuring country ham and sweet potatoes, and entertainment comes in the form of pig races, inflatables, and bands on three stages, including a performances Natural Wonder, the Ultimate Stevie Wonder Experience at 8:00 p.m.

“The Ham & Yam Festival continues to attract attendees from all over North Carolina and beyond,” states Sarah Edwards, festival organizer and Director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation.  “There really is something for everyone – excellent music, great food featuring country ham and sweet potatoes, inflatables, pig races, a barbecue cook-off, the always popular What’s That Yam Thing? Contest, and so much more!”

The ham and yam foods available at the festival include some beloved favorites, like the Kiwanis Club of Smithfield’s country ham biscuits, a staple since the beginning of the festival, as well as more recent additions like sweet potato cheesecake pie and new this year, ham mac and cheese and ham kabobs.  Other foods include baked sweet potatoes, ham kabobs, funnel cakes with ham and yam toppings, yam cotton candy, sweet potato soufflé ice cream, sweet potato cupcakes, yam smoothies, baked ham sandwiches, sweet potato fries, sweet potato lemonade, and sweet potato funnel cakes.

The Kiwanis Club of Smithfield’s Ham & Yam Supper will usher in the festival on Thursday, May 3 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Centenary United Methodist Church, located at 140 E. Market Street in Downtown Smithfield.  On the menu is Stevens Sausage country ham, yams, cabbage, and cornbread.  Tickets for dine in or takeout are both $7.00.

The second annual Ham & Yam Jam, a fundraiser for the Johnston Community College Foundation will be held from 6:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4 at the Little Brown Jug, located at 101 W. Market Street.  The $10 admission includes entry to the event featuring live music by The Commune Band, two drink tickets, food, and access to raffle prizes and games.

Entries for the What’s That Yam Thing? Contest will be accepted at the corner of Second and Johnston streets from 3:30 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4, and from 8:30 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 5.  This festival staple features creations made from sweet potatoes by local children, with the awards given out at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Awards for the annual barbecue cook-off, a fundraiser for Johnston County Youth Livestock, will announced at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.  All barbecue cooked on-site will be available for purchase by festival attendees.

A sweet potato pie eating contest is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. at the Second Street stage.  Ten people will compete to see who can eat ¼ of a sweet potato cheesecake pie the fastest, with the winner taking home $100.

Rubber ducks in pig masks will start floating down the Neuse River at 5:45 p.m. in Relay for Life’s annual Rubber Duck Race.  Each duck corresponds to a raffle tickets sold in advance or the day of the festival, and the prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers are $500, $200, and $100, respectively.

St. Ann’s Knights of Columbus have organized a blood drive that will bring the Bloodmobile to the festival from noon until 4:30 p.m.

The Ham & Yam Festival is organized by the nonprofit Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation.  For a complete schedule of events and to learn more about the Ham & Yam Festival, please visit