Top-class bangers will be winners at the Woodville/Pahiatua Racing Club's New Year meeting tomorrow.

But no, it won't be the also-rans from the track making their way on to the barbecues, instead the best traditional sausages will compete with gourmet varieties such as beef and blue cheese.

The Great Kiwi Sausage Festival is the brainchild of Woodville butcher John Shannon and along with top-class racing, live music and free entertainment, promises to add tonnes of flavour to the race day.

"It's pretty hard to beat a great sausage and although I'd like to keep this festival fairly local, I would like to grow the idea throughout the racing industry," he said. "Perhaps there will come a day when regional winners compete against each other for the tastiest banger."


The first festival was won last year by Whariti Meats from Woodville from a field of four and Mr Shannon is hopeful seven sausage-makers will take part tomorrow.

"The race meeting is a real social highlight and the sausage-makers will be fighting for bragging rights and prizes donated by ingredients supplier Bunzyl," he said.

"Those taking part are the guys who make the real sausages and there aren't many of us around now. The day of the old sausage-maker is coming to an end and these sausage artists will come up with some real unique flavours."

At this time of the year, butchers are working 18-hour days, seven days a week, but their commitment to the festival is wonderful, Mr Shannon says.

"Once Christmas is over most butchers are knackered. So for them to come back on January 4, while they're still trying to relax and go all-out at the festival is fantastic," he said. "This is a chance for punters to sample the sausages on offer and vote for their favourite.

"The race day and the sausage festival is massive and there's no other festival like this in New Zealand."

With sausage-makers from Martinborough through to Palmerston North and Waipawa taking part, Mr Shannon is predicting some tough competition.

"Murray Stephens from Waipawa is a master sausage-maker, but they're all passionate about beaut sausages," he said. And while the sausage-makers will compete for the public vote, in two categories, traditional and gourmet, Mr Shannon says the day of butchers regarding each other as opposition has long gone.

"Now we trade ideas and the sausage festival helps," he said.

The sausage festival is part of the Interislander Summer Festival at Woodville Racecourse and event manager Maggie Oulaghan said they're predicting record numbers through gates for this classic Kiwi day out at the races.