Tendring CAMRA - Harwich Sausage Festival
Saturday 6th November 2021
Come hither to the historic seaport of Harwich and witness the medieval* spectacle of sausage throwing, as grown men and women try to hurl seasoned pork projectiles as far as they can. Following on from this fabulous frivolity, three fantastic local inns throw open their doors for the gathered masses to test the wares of the finest butchers of the Tendring Hundred and determine the public's favourite sausage, all washed down with the choicest real ales and ciders.
* might not actually be true.
The Competition in 2020
In 2020 COVID-19 restrictions meant that our usual sausage spectacular had to be suspended but, with grit and determination the sausage samplers of Tendring made their way to 8 short-listed butchers, purchased some of their plain pork sausages, prepared and tasted them at home and voted online. Here are the 8 contestants:
- Becky's Butchers, Great Bromley CO7 7UU (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday)
- Chas Bower Butchers, Holland-on-Sea CO15 5EP (Monday to Saturday)
- D. Spence Family Butchers, Great Bentley CO7 8LA (Tuesday to Saturday)
- Frinton Road Butchers, Holland-on-Sea CO15 5UP (Tuesday to Saturday)
- Ragmarsh Farm Shop, Manningtree CO11 1US (Tuesday to Saturday)
- Ramsey Master Butchers, Ramsey CO12 5EY (Monday to Saturday)
- Shaws Farm Meats, Dovercourt Market CO12 3AX (Friday only)
- Smiths Butchers, Brightlingsea CO7 0AE (Wednesday to Saturday)
The Results in 2020
The Harwich Sausage Festival (Pan-demic) Champion for 2020 is Becky's Butchers of Great Bromley. It is Becky's third victory in a row, having also lifted the frying pan trophy in 2018 and 2019 and Becky goes on to represent Tendring in the Champion of Champions Sausage Competition in 2021.
Second place goes to Frinton Road Butchers of Holland-on-Sea and third place goes to D. Spence Family Butchers of Great Bentley.
The voting was very close and everyone commented on the extremely high standard and difficulty in choosing a winner. We conclude that Tendring is truly spoilt for choice when it comes to superb sausages but there has never been a more important time to support your local butcher.
There was no no throwing or public tasting in 2020 but we asked people to seek out the shortlisted sausages and vote online by midnight on 7th November. In 2021 we hope to be back to our traditional format with the pre-meat taking place from 11:30, throwing commencing at 12:00, tasting from 12:30 and results announced around 15:00. Watch this page for details!
Facts and Figures from Previous Years
The throwing competition in 2019 was won by current sausage throwing champion Todd Rothwell lobbing for the Alma Inn with his first throw of 171 feet. Second was George Webb throwing for Ramsey Master Butchers with a throw of 152 feet. This means that there is a new Harwich sausage throwing record of 171 feet, with Tood breaking the previous record of 157 feet he set in 2017. Before that the record was held by Harwich Sausage Throwing legend Nick Aldridge with a throw of 50 feet and 6 inches set in 2014.
Overall Champion in 2019 was Becky's Butchers with a pork and leek sausage which will be going forward for the national Champion of Champions competition. Second place went to Danny Spence of D. Spence Family Butchers with his "Bentley Banger" and Ramsey Master Butchers came in third with their pork and red onion recipe. The Innovation Class winner was the Alma Inn with their cheese and onion sausage with second place going to Becky's Butchers with a venison and cranberry sausage.
A Brief History of Sausage Throwing
Somewhere around 2008 at a beer festival planning meeting someone came up with the idea of a sausage throwing competition, we can't be sure who it was or exactly when it was suggested but it resurfaced year after year until 2011 when we decided that it simply had to be done in order to get it off the agenda!
So in 2011 we ran a throwing competition for Tendring sausage producers after which their fine wares were entered into a blind public tasting competition held in three traditional Harwich pubs. Such was the success of this format that it has become a regular event held on a Saturday in early November to coincide with British Sausage Week.
The Producers' Throwing Competition commences at 11.00 with some warming up (of participants, not sausages) before each contender throws a "standard" raw sausage as far as they can. The event is held next to the Hanover Inn in Harwich and is taken very seriously with a deal great of athleticism, psychology and giggling. A cricket umpire adjudicates to prevent cheating and Tendring CAMRA "Sausage Marshals" carefully measure and record each throw.
Once the throwing competition is complete the action moves to three traditional pubs - the Alma Inn, the Hanover Inn and the New Bell Inn where the sausages will be ready for the public to taste over the next couple of hours. Each pub will have supplies of some of the anonymous sausages and a supply of voting slips. Members of the public are invited to tour the pubs, sampling sausages and soaking up the atmosphere. For a vote to qualify all the sausages must be scored and the fully completed voting slip returned via one of the boxes made available at the pubs. When the competition ends at 14.30 the votes are collected and counted in the New Bell Inn (aka "Sausage HQ") where the winner will be announced at 15.00.
If you love the atmosphere of the Great British pub and are partial to a gourmet sausage we warmly invite you to join us. Even if you're not entirely sure we would welcome the opportunity to convince you that the combined talents of butchers, brewers and publicans makes for a fantastic day out!
There is no charge to watch the throwing or join the public sausage tasting but we respectfully ask that you buy drinks and perhaps some food as you visit the pubs. The butchers have donated their delectable produce free of charge so if you like what you taste please seek out and support them!
A bit of a Taster
There is no throwing or tasting this year but if you've not witnessed the throwing part of the festival before, we found this video from 2017 on YouTube to give you a bit of an idea.