4.29.2018

Five Fantastic Foods You Cannot Miss at the Ham and Yam Festival in Smithfield, NC

Foodies rejoice yearly when Smithfield, North Carolina hosts its Ham and Yam Festival. This is one of the southern towns biggest spring traditions. It's a day filled with food, bands, and games for the kids. You need to wear your fat pants and go hungry.



This festival started 34 years ago between the town of Smithfield and Smithfield, Virginia over the bragging rights of who had the best ham. Smithfield, NC got the top honor for two years in a row, and on the third that Virginia town with the same name decided not to head south for another ham-whooping.

Smithfield, North Carolina kept on with the tradition of hosting a festival the first Saturday in May.  .

Most of the food sold at the festival is made regionally in North Carolina or in Johnston County.

1. Kiwanis' Ham Biscuits


Country Ham  Biscuits is a staple in Johnston County


The Kiwanis start making ham biscuits early that morning and the booth typically has a line most of the day. It's a great combination of salty-savory country ham on a fluffy biscuit. It's one of the most popular foods at the event.

2. Sweet Potato Lemonade

I've never heard of such a drink before, but sweet potatoes are quite versatile. Sweet Potatoes are commonly found in beer and liquor so why not lemonade. The sweet potato lemonade is made by Wrights Sisters Concessions in Mt. Olive, N.C. It's an item created just for the ham and yam festival.

3. Sweet Potato Souffle Ice Cream

This delicious ice cream is made by Smitty's Homemade Ice Cream. They have storefronts in Burlington,  Graham, and Elon. They make the journey to Smithfield for the festival. Getting their ice cream is well worth any wait in line.


4. Sweet Potato Cheesecake Pie


Sweet Potato Cheesecake Pie is a hybrid between a sweet potato pie and a cheesecake.


This decadent pie is a favorite dessert item in the Ham and Yam Festival. In fact, it's the star attraction for the pie-eating contest. It's made locally in Smithfield and it's a hybrid between cheesecake and sweet potato pie. Watch as I tasted this heavenly pie live this year.

5. Sweet Potato Smoothies 

Long-time vendor Sam Sawaya created the sweet potato smoothie just for the festival. It may sound a little unusual, but people are loving it over his delicious strawberry, banana and pina coladas. Well, the health benefits of drinking a yam a day are certainly no scam. Sweet Potatoes are filled with Vitamins A and C. This dish, the baked sweet potatoes, and the sweet potato chips are probably the healthiest items served at the festival, but no one counts calories at Southern food festivals.

Other Finds

Funnel Cake Served at the Smithfield Ham and Yam Festival

Make sure you go hungry and try the following: Funnel Cakes with Ham and Yam Toppings, Baked Ham Sandwiches, Yam Cotton Candy, Sweet Potato Cupcakes and Sweet Potato French Fries. All food vendors at the festival have to showcase an item with either ham or sweet potatoes.

Study this map so you will know where to park.  Also, the Simple Twist Taproom and Bottle Shop will be open to serve craft beer and alcoholic beverages.

Smithfield, North Carolina hosts the Ham and Yam Festival the First Saturday in May. Foods containing #sweetpotatoes and #Ham are the stars. The highlight is the Sweet Potato Cheesecake Pie.



FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by VisitJoCo Tourism as part of an OutaboutNC tourism campaign. This curated post was written by Leigh Powell Hines as a tourism marketing partner. 

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