Smoked sausages and polka music attracted a crowd of more than 1,200 to SNPJ Farm in Kirtland, Ohio, for the 14th Annual Slovenian Sausage Festival hosted by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum on a warm and sunny Wednesday, September 13, 2017.
The People's Choice Award for top sausage went to Raddell's Sausage Shop of Cleveland, Ohio, while the festival judges selected Maple Heights Catering of Maple Heights, Ohio, for their prize. Azman Quality Meats of Euclid, Ohio, was voted runner-up in both categories.
As recipient of the People's Choice award, Raddell's winning product will be the official sausage sold at the Thanksgiving Polka Weekend, presented by the Polka Hall of Fame at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Cleveland, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, November 23, 24 and 25, 2017.
Zac Raddell, Rob Raddell, Jay Raddell and Ed Oshaben
Both meat markets have been prior winners with sausages made from recipes brought by their families from Slovenia. Raddell's Sausage Shop opened in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood in 1927. Maple Heights Catering was founded by Andrew and Jennie Hocevar in 1949.
Maple Heights Catering of Maple Heights, Ohio
"Every sausage-maker has their own secret ingredients," said Jay Raddell. "My great-grandfather had a combination people always liked and that's the recipe we follow."
Slovenian sausages (kranjske klobase, in Slovenian) are made with coarse-ground pork accented with garlic, salt and pepper. Sausages are cured by smoking.
Canada's Polka King Walter Ostanek was the featured entertainer for the Sausage Festival. Dancers enjoyed eight hours of music as polka orchestras volunteered for the fund-raiser. Polka jam sessions popped up around the dance pavilion. About sixty musicians performed. Many brought their traditional diatonic accordions, known as button boxes, including Button Box Band of the Year, the Fairport Jammers, and Kathy Hlad, Button Box Artist of the Year, as voted by the members of the Polka Hall of Fame.
Polka music legends Ron Sluga and Walter Ostanek, Canada's Polka King
"I come here every year for the music, to hear some of the best musicians around," said Walt Murzin of Detroit, Michigan. "It's just like it was years ago."
Musicians gathered for an impromptu jam session
at the 2017 Slovenian Sausage Festival
The Slovenian Sausage Festival is organized by the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Euclid's historic old City Hall. Upcoming events include the Harvest Polka Party, Friday, October 6, at the Croatian Lodge in Eastlake. Tickets for that event and the Thanksgiving Polka Weekend are available through Polka Hall of Fame, (216) 621- FAME or PolkaFame.com.
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