Museum hosts photo contest

Published 9:20 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Isle of Wight County Museum has returned with its annual Pan Ham photo competition as an ode to a local pork industry pioneer.

The competition requires participants to send in vacation photos including a photo of P.D. Gwaltney Jr. and his famous ham.

Beginning in 2013, the contest was inspired in a variety of ways.

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“It’s like Flat Stanley but with pork,” Jennifer England, director at the Isle of Wight County Museum, stated in an email.

In 1994, The Flat Stanley Project — based off the fictional character Flat Stanley — was introduced to have children create their own Flat Stanley paper cutouts and mail them to their friends and family around the world.

Additionally, the contest name and logo derives from former international carrier Pan American World Airways.

These inspirations portray the scope of the contest, with photo submissions from across the globe.

The winners from last year had submissions from Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, from the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho and from the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy.

On average, the museum receives upwards of 150 submissions each year. So far this year, there have been about 40 submissions, ranging from Israel to Wallops Island.

Gwaltney is heralded for having the world’s oldest edible ham, according to England.

In 1902, Gwaltney’s mercantile company forgot to ship off a ham. Upon realizing this, he decided to test how long the ham would remain preserved.

After 20 years, the ham remained edible, and from there he began to use it as a marketing tool for his business. Over the years, the ham was featured in a Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” exhibit and various expos.

Today, the 114-year old ham sits in the Isle of Wight County Museum.

The photo contest will run through Sept. 8, and winners will be announced on Sept. 12. All participants will be entered into a random drawing for prizes.

“This is a fun contest, and we enjoy seeing where people go with the ham,” England said.

Photos can be submitted through the Isle of Wight County Museum and Historic Sites Facebook page or to Jennifer England at