Tendring CAMRA - Harwich Sausage Festival
Saturday 2nd November 2024
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.
Results from the 2023 Harwich Sausage Festival
On Saturday 4th November 2023 the weather was against us but we stoically marched to St. Helen's Green to lob some slimey sausage-shaped objects and then gratefully retired to the hostelries of Old Harwich to sample the magnificent wares of the butchers of the Tendring Hundred. This is how our sausages rolled:
The throwing competition in 2023 was won by Peter Swift with the first throw of the competition - coming in at a magnificent 84 feet and 6 inches in very challenging conditions. Second place went to Harry Wheeler with a throw of 75 feet and third was James Ravinet with a lob of 72 feet and 6 inches.
Nine butchers submitted superb sausages for the public tasting competition as follows:
- SAUSAGE A was a chicken and apple sausage from Ramsey Master Butchers in Ramsey.
- SAUSAGE B was an egg and bacon sausage from Ragmarsh Farm Shop in Manningtree. Third place.
- SAUSAGE C was a caramelised onion sausage from Becky's Butchers in Great Bromley. Second place.
- SAUSAGE D was a leek and chilli sausage from Pier Avenue Butchers in Clacton-on-Sea.
- SAUSAGE E was an Italian sausage from Frinton Road Butchers in Holland-on-Sea. First place.
- SAUSAGE F was a steak and stout sausage from Smiths Butchers in Brightlingsea.
- SAUSAGE G was a pork sausage from Wallis's Farm Shop in Tendring.
- SAUSAGE H was a Marmite and black pepper sausage from Shaws Farm Meats from Dovercourt and Manningtree markets.
- SAUSAGE I was a garlic and herb sausage from Chas Bower in Holland-on-Sea.
The Harwich Sausage Festival Champion Sausage 2023 is therefore the Italian Sausage from Frinton Road Butchers in Holland-on-Sea.
Facts and Figures from Previous Years
The Harwich Sausage Festival Champion for 2022 was Becky's Butchers of Great Bromley with their Red Onion Marmalade sausage.
Second place in 2022 went to Ramsey Master Butchers of Ramsey, with their Roasted Garlic and Wild Mushroom sausage, and third place was shared by Chas Bower Butchers of Holland-on-sea with their Jalapeno sausage, Frinton Road Butchers of Holland-on-Sea with their Stilton Sausage and Shaws Farm Meats of Dovercourt and Manningtree Markets with their Garlic and Herb sausage.
The voting in 2022 was very close as usual and every sausage was somebody's favourite. If you fancy running your own mini festival at home do get out and support our fabulous Tendring butchers.
The throwing competition in 2022 was won by sausage throwing supremo Todd Rothwell lobbing for the Alma Inn with his second throw of 110 feet and 6 inches. Second was Arthur Power throwing for Harwich Town Sailing Club with a throw of 109 feet and six inches, and third was Dean Wallis throwing for Wallis's Farm Shop with a throw of 106 feet. This means that the Harwich sausage throwing record stands at 171 feet, Todd Rothwell's gigantic throw in perfect conditions in 2019. Prior to that the record was held by Harwich Sausage Throwing legend Nick Aldridge with a throw of 150 feet and 6 inches set in 2014.
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 Throwing Competition commences at 11.00 with some warming up (of participants, not sausages) at the Stingray in Church Street before we make the short walk to Harwich Green for 11:30 where each contender throws a "standard" raw sausage as far as they can. The throwing all takes place on Harwich Green and is taken very seriously with a great deal 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 Stingray 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!
If you're travelling from away it's really easy to come along to Old Harwich by public transport and sample some sausages whilst enjoying a couple of beers. Both Harwich Town railway station and bus station are within a couple of minute's stroll of the Stingray and the start of the festival and all the pubs can easily be reached on foot in a short circuit of the old town.
Train passengers should alight at Harwich Town (HWC) station. Train timetables can be found here. Rail replacement buses will be operating from Colchester.
Bus passengers can catch Service 3 from Clacton or Service 103/104/102 from Colchester. A Journey Planner can be found here
A bit of a Taster
Just in case you've never witnessed sausage throwing before, we found this video from 2017 on YouTube to give you a bit of an idea. It gets much more serious after this.