A Sheridan-based sausage company racked up two awards at the Wyoming and Colorado Meat Processors Association convention ear- lier this month. Legerski's chorizo sausage won grand champion placement in the specialty cooked sausage category and the Polish sausage was also named reserve grand champion in its respective category.
"That's a big deal to me because I've never competed before," Legerski Sausage Owner Jimmy Legerski said. "It's kind of a rarity to win an award the first time, let alone two awards."
Legerski said approxi- mately 75 people attended this year's convention March 14-16 in Laramie, and there were a dozen entries for each award category.
While the convention was the premiere exposure of Legerski's Sausage among meat industry experts, the family's signature products have been a staple of Sheridan's local economy for decades. Legerski's grandfather initiated the family's trade in 1927 when he started up Legerski Meats, which operated until 1963. From then, the compa- ny was known as the Sheridan Meat Company, though as a different com- pany than the one that exists today. Then, in 1986,
Legerski's father and two uncles split the business into three legs: one became a cattle buyer, one ran a meat packing plant at Acme and the other uncle, George Legerski, made sausage. In the most recent leg of the family history, George's Sausage operated in Sheridan, and Jimmy Legerski worked with his uncle from 2000 to 2012. Today, Jimmy Legerski is the last in the family to carry on the family trade of meat processing.
As of the first of the year, Legerski changed the name of the family product from "George's Sausage" to "Legerski's Sausage."
Otherwise, his product is consistent with the traditional recipe formally established in 1963.
While the family's sausage recipes have been similar throughout the decades, '63 was the year a uniform recipe was established and documented for the purpose of U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections.
Today, all of Legerski's Sausage is authorized for retail, while the polish, Italian and chorizo sausages are also available for wholesale distribution. Plans are in the works to form stronger ties within the community by having the sausage available at local restaurants to be incorporated into existing menu items. Legerski said he's not interested in seeing his sausage sold at local gro- cery stores, though, as it would drive traffic away from his main location next to the Maverick gas station on North Main Street.
However, he said he would consider allowing out-of-town grocers to carry his product as a step to expand distribution. Legerski said that while some proces- sors might take feedback from the con- vention and tweak their recipes, he said he’s keeping his tried and true formulas the same. Sticking with the script serves two purposes: it upholds a tradition established by generations of entrepre- neurship, and it also avoids the debacle of trying to fix something that isn’t bro- ken.
“I’ve known for a long time that we have good sausage,” he said. “I hear it from customers all the time.”
Now, the common knowledge of Legerski’s regular clients that the sausage is one of the best in the region is backed with two awards.
Legerski said that while his business is subject to seasonal changes in traffic volume, he sells between 600 and 800 pounds of sausage each week to local customers.
Photo: Jimmy Legerski holds his awards Friday at Legerski’s Sausage Company on North Main Street. Legerski won awards at the Wyoming and Colorado Meat Processors Association 2014 con- vention for his Polish sausage and chorizo sausage.
BY TRACEE DAVIS
THE SHERIDAN PRESS