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Ham Days Pride

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Nice weather for Ham Days, although attendance down

By Stephen Lega

Sunshine prevailed during Ham Days 2011.

"We did have wonderful weather," said Brad Mattingly, chairman of the Ham Days committee.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets for Marion County's biggest annual celebration. Whether someone was looking for music or a marshmallow gun, it was there to be found.

Mattingly said Monday that he did not expect to have numbers for this year's Ham Days until later in the week, but from what he heard and saw, the numbers were down from the previous year.

Weather forecasts leading up to Ham Days suggested rain was possible. Although the rains never came, Mattingly said the forecasts may have kept some people away. Nevertheless, he said the event was well attended and run smoothly.

"Whether it was the breakfast, the children's parade or the Ham Jam, all of our events went off entirely well," he said.

The Marion County Chamber of Commerce made a change to the Ham Jam this year. Instead of hosting a free concert on the Main Street stage downtown, they recruited an up-and-coming country music star to perform Saturday night at Centre Square. Mattingly said they had to make a decision at noon on Friday whether to move the concert indoors or stay outside. They decided to play outside, rain or shine.

While hundreds of people attended the performance by Jason Michael Carroll, Mattingly said they had been hoping for a bigger crowd.

"We didn't quite sell as many tickets as we wanted, but the crowd that we had had a good time," Mattingly said.

The car, truck and motorcycle show had 110 entrants, according to Adam Poff. This was down from 164 last year.

One event has continued to see an increase in participation. This year, 365 runners registered for the Pokey Pig 5K, and 343 of them completed the race. Last year, 280 runners completed the race, and that was up from 179 runners two years ago.

This year's race included participants in the Girls on the Run Program, and a group of six soldiers who participated in the race in spirit by running a 5K in Bagdad, Iraq, where they are stationed.

As the 2011 festival wrapped up, plans were already starting for 2012's event.

Stacy Mattingly, Marion County Chamber of Commerce executive director, said the fabulous weather, the attendees and the new concert all contributed to the event.

But it was another group of people who made it possible.

"Once again, members of our community came together to orchestrate one of the top 10 events in Kentucky," Stacy Mattingly said. "The chamber truly appreciates all the volunteers."