IN the age of supermarket takeovers Chesterfield is lucky to have prized independent traders.
Chief among them are four butchers going head-to-head for a tasty title – town sausage champion – in the borough council’s Chesterfield Arts and Market Festival.
“It’s good for morale and business, plus we’re good at what we do”, said Richard Chamberlain, manager at Meadowfresh.
Pork and mustard, or spicy Espana, sausages tempt at the national award-winning market hall shop but the actual entry stays under wraps. Richard added: “We keep it close to our chests and don’t decide until the day before or the morning. Sometimes we go traditional, sometimes a peculiar flavour. When it comes to sausages customers will try anything.” Pleasing the public is key as the sausage stand-off is judged by people who try samples then vote. Sticking to a tried and tested favourite has paid off for R B Elliotts and Son market hall stall butchers, winner for the last two years. Manager Martin Watson said: “We already know we will use the one that we already sell. It’s very popular and we sell lots – about 20 kilos a day. The contest is good because it’s just local butchers, there’s not many in Chesterfield now who make their own sausages.” Rivalry is close at hand - with W Hodkin’s stall opposite Elliotts – but the competition stays healthy. It creates a bit of interest and friendly competition, it’s not too serious”, said W Hodkin manager Chris Norton.
A sausage made to exact specifications will be ordered in for the stall. “Last year we used tomato and came second so we’re going to try something plain. If we stick to plain the majority of people like them. Hopefully this year will be a winner,” said Chris.
Robert Bowring, on Glumangate, is the fourth butcher taking part. “It’s a big secret what sausage we’re doing,” said owner Mr Bowring. “What counts is what people want and quality. The contest is marvellous really, more towns should do it.”
The sausage contest takes place from 11am on Saturday October 29.
•See next week’s Derbyshire Times for the third feature in our series leading up to the 2011 arts and market festival.
By Ellen Beardmore