The Sauerkraut Capital of North Dakota is home to a one-of-kind sausage, and it’s no mere baloney.
Wishek, North Dakota, is a town of almost exactly 1,000 established in the late 19th century by Black Sea German immigrants. These pioneer Germans from Russia brought with them to the south-central area of the state a proud heritage that has survived into the 21st century through traditional polka music, dancing, and food — particularly sauerkraut and Wishek Sausage. Those vestiges have come together on the second Wednesday of October every year since 1925 at the town’s longest-running event, Sauerkraut Day.
The massive annual meal comprises 500 pounds of wieners, 200 pounds of bacon, and 110 gallons of the festival’s namesake prepared cabbage cooked in gigantic cast-iron kettles, drawing hundreds of out-of-town visitors along with the local businesses, schools, and churches that contribute at vendor booths, German folk music performances, and a pie social following the lunch.
The nearly century-old festival has earned the little town the lofty title of Sauerkraut Capital of North Dakota, but the meat that tops the kraut is an even older tradition — and it’s what really put the town on the map.
Often simply called Wishek Sausage, the ring bologna made in the butcher shop at Stan’s Supervalu is made from a recipe that dates back to 1909 that is currently in the hands — or head, to be precise — of the store’s 81-year-old butcher, George Just (pictured center in the archival photograph above). The recipe is secret, but the delectability isn’t, as evidenced by the thousands of orders the store ships every year.
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