Swain County 4-H Beef Jerky Contest

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Sliced, spiced and dried. Show off your beef jerky making skills in the Swain County 4-H Beef Jerky Contest. Reserve your Beef Jerky take-home kit today!

Did you know that the word “jerky” was originally from a native tribe in South America called the Quechua? This tribe was part of the ancient Inca empire where they originally called it ch’arki, which means “dried meat” or “to burn meat”.

In the early 1800s, cowboys carried jerky or salted meat while they moved cattle from pasture to pasture. It gave them a low fat, high protein snack to chew on during the long hours of the day. This was during a time in America when jerky was popular and fully understood and made with various types of meat. 

At the end of the 19th century, many jerky products saw a great increase in popularity and several well-known industry names were born. Even though jerky was already quite popular, it proved itself valuable during two of the most horrific tragedies in human history: WWI and WWII. During both of these wars, jerky was used in C-rations for American troops. 

Soak it & Smoke It_ Jerky Contest

Reserving your kit, Material Pick-up, Entry Deadline, and Award Announcement Dates:

  • Reserve your Beef Jerky Take-Home Kit by Friday, April 16. Please call 828-488-3848 to reserve your kit. 
  • Pick-up kit from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. on Thursday, April 22.
    • Grab and Go Beef Jerky Kit includes supplies to assist you with your entry: (meat, spices, marinade ingredients, and dehydrating tips) 
    • The ingredients in your kit are simply to assist you in making your beef jerky. You are not limited to use the ingredients in your kit. Any recipe/ingredient is permitted.
  • Entry drop-off Monday, April 26th between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
    • Please fill out the Google Form to complete your entry form. 
  • Awards will be announced on Wednesday, April 28


  • Open to all youth 5-18 years of age: Cloverbud (5-7 years), Junior (8-12 years), Senior (13-18 years).
  • Entry fee is one non-perishable food item to be donated to a local food pantry.
  • Every entry must include the Entry Form (fill out online google form or fill out at drop-off). Google Form.
  • Every entry must include recipe. Please include drying method used. (dehydrator, oven, etc.).
  • All entries will receive a ribbon of participation and there will be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons in each age division and one overall “Best in Show” ribbon.
  • Each entry will be judged by appearance, texture/pliability, taste, and odor. 

For more information, call (828) 488-3848 or contact:

Kyla-Jo Farmer, Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development

Dee Decker, Extension Agent, Family Consumer Science

Kendra Fortner, Extension Agent, Livestock