Seven quality Cheshire sausages emerged from among almost 30 at the University of Chester, Now Food Centre and will go on to be bid to become the 2017 Sausage of the Festival at this year’s Chester Food Drink and Lifestyle event.

A panel of 11 judges, led by chairman Briony Wilson, four-time winner Steve Vaughan of Vaughans Butchers and including Izzy Grey of We Love Cheshire, sausage expert Michael Muter, Now Food Centre’s Jeff George and Chester Fields owner Mark Jarvis, deliberated in a blind tasting over sausages from right across Cheshire.

Dee 106.3 breakfast presenter and eight-time judge Gavin Matthews admitted that being on the panel was a tough job but one he looked forward to each year.

He said: “Every year we seem to get more entries and more quality sausages being made by our butchers, making the decision harder each year with the ever improving fabulously high standard. I can’t wait to see who becomes our festival sausage champion.”

There were two categories, with judges looking to decide from more than 30 sausages who would be the finalists in the Best Plain Sausage and Best Flavoured Sausage to be judged on Sunday, April 16 at the festival.

Best plain pork sausage finalists were: Cottom Foods of Widnes, Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, David Joinson, Chester and Ernest W Edge and Son, Handbridge.

Flavoured sausage finalists were: Cottom Foods of Widnes for their old English sausage, R F Burrows, Tarporley, for their caramelised onion sausage and Pen y Lan Pork for their pork and chilli sausage.

Judges Manager of the NoWFOOD Centre University of Chester,Jeff George, Ruth Storry of sponsors Allington Hughes Law, butcher Steve Vaughan and Gavin Matthews of Dee 106.3

These seven sausages will now compete for the title of Sausage of the Festival with the first 40 people who attend the food and drink festival on April 16 at 11am in the main demo kitchen having the chance to taste and vote for their favourite in each category. This judging decides the Sausages of the Festival.

Once the two division winners have been chosen Steve Vaughan, of Pen-y-ffordd Butchers, will then choose the Sausage of the Festival and this butcher will go on to represent Cheshire in the National Champion of Champions contest in October.

Festival organiser Stephen Wundke thanked the Now Food Centre for providing such outstanding facilities to allow all the sausages to be cooked in the optimum conditions.

He said: “We have gone to a lot of effort to ensure maximum transparency in this competition with blind voting and a large number of judges to cover all pallets and the Now Food Centre have the best kitchens anywhere in the north west that allowed us to use ovens that provide a ‘fry pan’ cook, evenly to all sausages ensuring the ultimate flavour was sealed in each sausage - it was something very special to see and taste.

“Now the public can help us find our overall winner at this year’s festival and who knows, maybe we will end up with a national champion again just like Steve Vaughan.”

The Chester Food Drink and Lifestyle Festival takes place from April 15-17 over Easter weekend. For more information or to find out how to buy tickets, which are £6 online with children under 12 free, go to .