New recipe spices up Vancouver Sausage Fest

St. Joseph's fundraiser also features entertainment, rides, beer garden

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter


photo The Vancouver Sausage Fest is three days of music, eating, carnival rides and family fun. It runs 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday.


By the numbers

5,000: Pounds of sausage ordered for this year's festival.

1,000: Pounds of chicken.

1,400: Pounds of pork ribs.

4,800: Potatoes.

7,000: Ears of corn.

800-900: Volunteers needed each year to run the festival.

1,790: Volunteer shifts over the three-day weekend.

400: Number of students who will benefit from the fundraiser.

If you go

What: Vancouver Sausage Fest, with food, carnival rides, beer garden, arts and crafts, entertainment and bingo.

Where: 6500 Highland Drive, Vancouver.

When: 5-11 p.m. Sept. 7; 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 8; 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 9.

Cost: $2, or $1 with a donation of nonperishable food for the Vancouver Fire Department Christmas Food Drive.

A new sausage is coming to the Vancouver Sausage Fest this year.

But the popular festival, which draws between 25,000 and 30,000 people each year, will still only have one type of sausage.

If you're wondering how that's possible, don't worry, the organizers of the St. Joseph Catholic School fundraiser didn't bend the rules of time, space and mathematics to make it happen.

It's just that this year, the sausages were made with a new recipe, one that has "a little bit more spice, but not too much spice," said Judy McMorine, the development director.

"We have a new and improved recipe, and it's even better than before," McMorine said. "It's got a lot more flavor. Every year we go back and see how we can do it better. We wanted it to have a meatier flavor, but it also has a better balance."

The recipe has actually changed several times over the years since the fest began in 1972, said Gene Munson, one of the founders.

"When we started, there was a fellow that lived near the parish who had a market in Portland," Munson said. "He had sausage, so we got them from him all the time. He gave us the best prices for many years."

As the festival got bigger, organizers had to go to larger suppliers to meet the demand. The group has switched vendors and recipes many times, he said.

"They order sausage by the ton, literally," Munson said. "We move a lot of it."

Sausage Fest first started when, due to diminishing funds, the school's pastor grew concerned that he would have to get rid of seventh- and eighth-grade classes.

"A group of us got together when we heard that and said, 'What can we do?'" Munson said. "So we decided to have a festival."

About 8,000 to 9,000 people showed up in the first year, but it was enough for the school to save the two grades. The event still supports the school and about 400 students each year, but it's also grown to be one of the biggest events in Clark County.

And it has a lot more entertainment to offer than just sausages. There are carnival rides, arts and crafts, a wide variety of food, dancing, music and a beer garden.

"This year, like last year, our beer garden is in full view of the stage," McMorine said. "We changed to that last year so adults can now be in the beer garden but also take in the entertainment."

Maletis Beverage will supply several types of beer for this year's garden, she said.

Kids can participate in a hula hoop contest, which will have prizes.

And for the fifth year in a row, the fest will include a 5K fun run, starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Cost is $20 for adults, $15 for students. Children can join the 1K kids dash for free starting at 8:30 a.m.

"It's family-friendly," McMorine said. "It's open to runners and walkers of all ages, and everyone gets a Mr. Sausage T-shirt."

Headline bands include Five Guys Named Moe on Friday from 8:30 to 10 p.m. and Radical Revolution on Saturday from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

The fest will finish Sunday with the finale of Southwest Washington's Got Talent, starting at 6 p.m.

"People really loved that last year," McMorine said. "It had a great lineup with notable talent."