It's time for the Smithfield Ham & Yam Festival in Downtown Smithfield, scheduled for May 5th with a wealth of activities for the entire family and presented by Stevens Sausage and Agri Supply.

The Ham & Yam Festival is a celebration of the agricultural history of Johnston County. The area was once a rural farmland where ham producers and sweet potato growers made a living. Because of this, the focus of the festival remains food. Attendees can find many varieties of hams and yams at the festival – barbecue from the cook-off, country ham biscuits, sweet potato cheesecake pies, sweet potato smoothies, sweet potato lemonade, baked sweet potatoes, yam cotton candy, sweet potato chips, baked ham sandwiches, and more!

ham & yam biscuit

If you don’t know the history of the Ham & Yam festival you should read an older, but still relevant article, by Smithfield native Emily Wallace. You can access it here. If you do know the history of the Ham & Yam festival, then you know that this will be the 34th year.

Natural Wonder will headline with a free concert scheduled for 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. Led by Gabriel Bello, a #1 Billboard-ranked vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Natural Wonder, the Ultimate Stevie Wonder Experience, channels the energy and artistry that has made Stevie Wonder an icon across decades and genres. Natural Wonder brings real musicianship, a dynamic show, and a deep, studious love of the Stevie Wonder legacy to the stage for an epic performance that recreates the look, feel, and sound of a Stevie set that blows audiences away.

“We are thrilled to have Natural Wonder at the Ham & Yam Festival,” states Sarah Edwards, festival organizer and Executive Director of Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation.  “They’re an incredibly talented and entertaining group with a show full of hits that will have the audience up dancing and singing along!”

In addition to the free 8:00 p.m. concert on Saturday, May 5, there will be entertainment on the festival’s three stages throughout the day.  “We are fortunate to have a large number of very talented up and coming musicians and entertainers here in Johnston County and North Carolina, and are pleased to be able to shine a spotlight on them at the festival,” states Edwards.

A lady doesn’t divulge her age, but I will say that the Ham & Yam Festival has been going on longer than I’ve been alive, which means the Ham & Yam festival has been a staple of my life as a Johnston County native. I can see in my interest and anticipation for the festival how I’ve aged over the years. As a child, my joy in attending the festival was an impending glee regarding what wonders I could persuade my mother to buy me: sand art, a princess ribbon crown, possibly something I could have monogramed. As an adult, I take pleasure in a slow perusal of the vendors, looking for locally-crafted things I could use in my house: oh, look, handmade kitchen towels… I’ll take 8, thanks. Growing up has some hard truths to it. Maybe this year I’ll buy a flowing, sparkly ribbon crown just to prove a point to myself.

pig race ham & Yam

A full schedule of events on Saturday, May 5 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 fair foods and menu items featuring country ham and sweet potatoes, and additional entertainment comes in the form of pig races, children’s activities, and more.

The Ham & Yam Festival is organized by the nonprofit Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation.  To learn more about the Ham & Yam Festival, please visit, or call Sarah Edwards at 919-934-0887.