Just a total Sausagefest

Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

On October 17, the City of Waterloo hosted the first-ever Sausagefest in Waterloo Public Square. Sausagefest is a festival aimed at celebrating the prolific meat cylinder and local craft beer while bringing the community together one last time before the end of Oktoberfest.

Tracy Suerich, a festival and events specialist for the City of Waterloo, emphasized that the festival was more than just a clever name.

“There’s something synonymous with October, sausages and beer in this town,” said Suerich.

“There weren’t as many Oktoberfest events happening in Waterloo this year and we wanted to step in and help the uptown businesses by drawing people in.”

While some of the offerings were quite tasty, the lack of diversity in sausage-centric vendors led the festival to fall flat.

Only five food vendors participated: Abe Erb, Zoup!, Molly Blooms, Beertown and Top Meat Market. Of the five, only three vendors presented sausages in their true form.

Molly Blooms presented a classic rendition of bangers and mash, slathered in a savory gravy.  The sausage was said to be imported from the United Kingdom, which made the dish feel like true British comfort food.

Next up was Zoup!, who presented two soups that contained pieces of sausages. Shrug. Zoup! is not exactly the most prolific sausage producer, which led their appearance at the festival to feel like a last ditch effort to expand the vendor list. All things considered, the soup certainly hit the spot given the frigid temperatures during the festival.

From there was Abe Erb, who served up a solid pork and fennel sausage. No complaints here. This was the first sausage tried that was actually made in-house by the vendor and Abe Erb earned kudos for using local ingredients as well.

Unfortunately, Abe Erb’s excellent brews were absent from the festival beer list. However  attendees still had a solid list of local brews with offerings from Innocente and Block Three Brewing, to name a few.

Beertown offered a pork sausage taco that presented the best value for those in attendance, but failed to leave a lasting mark.

For a festival that is intended to celebrate the sausage, Beertown’s experimental dish came off as a questionable attempt to either stand out among vendors, or rather mask an uninspired sausage. As a standalone dish, the tacos were solid, but felt out of place at a festival that was already lacking in vendor support.

Finally there was Top Market Meats, a family-owned farm out of Ariss, Ontario that specializes in rabbit meat. This vendor boasted eight different sausages to sample, including a delectable souvlaki goat sausage and their specialty rabbit sausage.

“It’s something different that people can try, it’s seasoned perfectly for them … [rabbit sausage] was the beginning of our niche and unique sausage offerings,” said Leslie Zinger, a farmer at Top Market Meats.

By delivering in both quantity and quality, Top Market earned the praise of most in attendance, and certainly made them a festival highlight.

In the end, Sausagefest failed to meet most expectations, but should still seen as an admirable effort for a first attempt.

Rather than the competition style expected from food festivals, Sausagefest felt like a giant, friendly potluck — which inevitably led most vendors to lack ambition and dial-in their dishes. If organizers expect to capture a greater audience next year and deliver a memorable experience, they must put more of an emphasis on vendors that specialize in sausages.

With proper time and effort, Sausagefest has the potential to be more than just an excuse to get day-drunk.

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