THE LOOP — Shane Riff brought her mother and 2-year-old daughter to Daley Plaza after hearing about the Wurst Festival on the radio.
The three women sat in Daley Center Plaza, at Washington and Dearborn streets, and tried all kinds of hand-grilled sausages made from locally raised cattle Wednesday afternoon.
"We tried the bison brat, the bacon brat and the beer brat. We tried whatever was offered first, and I'm glad we did. I wouldn't have tried the bison brat, but it was delicious," Riff said.
Riff said the bison brat was one of the only meats her toddler would eat.
"It's awesome. She's loving it. She wouldn't give me the bison brat back, and she loves the live music," Riff said. "I would think [the Daley Plaza] was too small, but it's working perfectly. The fact that we can sit outside, eat amazing food and listen to good music Downtown is awesome."
Mark Wilhelms, who started the fest, said "It's a culinary event and celebration of naturally pasteurized sausages."
All the meat at the festival comes from animals raised within 200 miles, using natural agricultural methods, meaning no hormones, steroids or antibiotics, he said.
"It's the best meat you're ever going to get, and it's the most healthy sausage you'll ever eat," Wilhelms said. "There’s bad meat. There ain't no doubt about it. We are eating bad meat, but we aren't eating bad meat here at the Wurst Festival. We’re eating good meat, and there's a difference."
The festival features chef demonstrations, sausage-making demonstrations and live music, but he said the event was about getting out the message about good quality meat.
"Supermarket meat is full of hormones, and it's full of antibiotics. It's a bad thing," Wilhelms said. "We want to say, 'Hey look, there's a choice: You can have good meat.' Our bratwurst and our sausages taste better than any meat you'll buy in the supermarket."
Mike Sulkowski, 61 said, he was not a "health food nut," but still enjoyed his Wisconsin beer brat on his lunch break.
"It tastes pretty fresh, and it's pretty nice. It's good though, I'll admit that," Sulkowski said.
He works two blocks away, selling insurance, and knew he would stop by the fest when he saw the signs about it. He said he's a regular at all the fests at Daley Plaza.
"It's a great idea when the weather cooperates," Sulkowski said. "It's cheaper to eat here than any of the other fast-food places, and the meat is definitely better."