Vancouver Sausage Fest: sausages, any way you like 'em

Annual festival under way at St. Joseph Catholic School

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter



If you go

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

Where: St. Joseph Catholic School, 6500 Highland Drive, Vancouver.

When: 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. today; 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

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

On the Web:

Vancouver Sausage Fest

How do you like to eat your sausage? On a stick, in a bun, with sauerkraut, ketchup or perhaps spicy mustard? This weekend at the Vancouver Sausage Fest, you can have it any way you want it, but there's only one kind of sausage on the menu.

That's just the way it is, says Jerry Herrera, sausage festival booth chairman. The 5,000 pounds of BrucePac sausage made their way from Woodburn, Ore., to St. Joseph Catholic School in Vancouver. The annual school fundraiser draws 25,000 to 30,000 people each year. As the festival gets bigger, the organizers have had to change the recipe and supplier

several times. This year's sausage, a slightly spicier recipe than last year's, is cooked in a beer solution to 165 degrees.

"The flavors are so majestic," Herrera said. "That's why people come here."

In the first hour and a half of the festival, more than 1,000 people go through the gates and fill the picnic tables, chowing down on chicken, ribs, hamburgers, baked potatoes and, of course, sausage.

"It just tastes good. I don't know if it tastes good 'cause it tastes good or 'cause of the ambiance," said Melanie Swokowski, 50. "Every year, you come back; it's like a family reunion."

Swokowski started going to the festival while she was a student at Fort Vancouver High School. Each year, she sees familiar faces and tastes the familiar flavors of sausage and sweet corn covered in butter, salt and pepper. Many former St. Joseph students bring their kids to the festival to visit and support their old stomping grounds.

Swokowski went on her first date with her husband, Tom, at the festival back in 1994. They've been going to the festival each year ever since.

"It's like tradition for the Vancouver area," she said.

Patty Hastings: 360-735-4513;;