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June 5, 2014

New competitors, same winning traditions at Farmers Place

A tradition of craftsmanship and competition success is being passed down at Farmers Place, a meat processing firm and butcher shop in South Edmeston.

William Butler and Scott Stephens, the head meat cutters at Farmers Place, entered four products into this year’s Pennsylvania Processed Product Competition. Billing itself as the largest meat product judging on the East Coast, the competition is organized by the Pennsylvania Association of Meat Processors. Held at PAMP’s convention at Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pa., the competition is judged by meat experts from the industry and from Pennsylvania State University. The convention took place from May 2 to 4 this year.

“This is actually the first time for me and Scott both,” said Butler.

Not so for their coach.

Joe Leonard, who started Farmers Place out of a two-car garage in 1981, is no stranger to meat competition. He remains the only American to win a World Cup for meat processing, which he did for ham in 2004 at the International Meat Trades Fair. At the contest, which was held in Frankfurt, Germany, and is the largest meat competition in the world, Leonard also collected 21 Medals, 16 of them gold.

“He is actually in the Cured Meats Hall of Fame,” said Butler.

Leonard has dedicated himself to coaching Butler and Stephens, and the Pennsylvania Processed Product Competition is the first meat competition that the pair entered together.

“Coaching them and training them has been very exciting,” said Leonard.

For the competition, Butler and Stephens entered turkey pastrami in the poultry product category, beef jerky in the beef jerky category, boneless smoked ham in the boneless ham category and venison snack sticks in the venison shelf stable category. Stephens and Butler made all products themselves, using recipes they devised, while the forms of the products were made by fellow Farmers Place employees Bernadette Cummings and Terry Grower.

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