There’s a new champion when it comes to claiming the title for the best Mennonite Farmers Sausage in the Saskatchewan Valley region.
Riverside Meats of Warman captured three of five categories in the second annual ‘Lord of the (Sausage) Rings’ taste-testing competition in Osler on Thursday, November 3. The family-owned business won first place for Best Overall, Appearance and Taste.
The Lord of the (Sausage) Rings annual trophy is awarded for Best Overall.
Eldon Wiebe of Riverside Meats said they entered their regular fare in the competition.
“We didn’t come up with any special recipe specifically for this event,” said Wiebe. “This is the same sausage we sell over the counter every day to our customers. A lot of the people who come to our shop are local, but we get quite a few customers from communities that are further away.”
Another Warman family-owned firm, J&J Sausage, won the award for Texture.
Smokehaus Meats of Martensville, last year’s overall winner, won the “Media and Mayors’ Award” for getting top marks from a panel of area mayors and journalists.
The sold-out event organized by the Town of Osler highlights the large number of locally-owned and operated firms in the area that produce and sell traditional Mennonite sausage. It is also aimed at raising funds for recreational facilities in the community. This year, the funds are going toward installation of a concrete pad for the town’s outdoor rink, allowing it to be used year-round.
Over 250 people attended the sold-out event, held at the Osler Community Hall, to taste-test the wares of seven local family-owned specialty-meats operations. The competitors included: Riverside Meats, J&J Sausage, Smokehaus Meats, Carmen Corner Meats of Waldheim, Ideal Meats of Neuhorst, Pine View Farms of Osler, and Smokey Joe’s Meat Shop of Rheinland.
Blind samples of each sausage from the seven competitors were distributed, and each person in the crowd filled out a scorecard rating each sample. The votes were later tallied to determine winners in each category.
A ‘celebrity table’ included four mayors: Charlie Clark of Saskatoon, Sheryl Spence of Warman, Pat Wagner of Hague and Dennis Helmuth of Rosthern. A reporter from the Clark’s Crossing Gazette, two reporters from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix and an announcer, Jason Lee, from CJWW Radio were also part of the celebrity table. Lee also did double-duty as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
A light-hearted “Jeopardy” style quiz show, moderated by former Osler Mayor Ben Buhler that pitted the media against the mayors resulted in a narrow, hard-fought and ultimately meaningless victory for the media.
Newly-acclaimed Osler Mayor Abe Quiring, who along with the rest of the town councillors and civic staff, were busy working the tables for most of the night, presented the awards to the winners. He also noted the contributions that retiring Mayor Ben Buhler has made to the community and the province during his 15 years of service. The praise was echoed by Clark, Spence, Wagner, and Helmuth.
Clark, the newly-elected Saskatoon Mayor, has a long-standing connection with the Buhler family. His wife of 14 years, Sarah, is the daughter of Jake and Louise Buhler of Osler. Jake is Ben’s brother.
Turning down the invitation to attend the event wasn’t an option for Clark.
“It wasn’t two minutes after I was elected that I got a barrage of text messages, e-mails, and phone calls from my in-laws to make sure I come here tonight,” said Clark. “But of course, I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Osler is a pretty special community.”