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Rock Cave IGA's annual 'ground hog' sausage sale started Wednesday, Jan. 27 and will continue through Feb. 9.

Missing French Creek Freddie already? Get your fix of ‘ground hog’ sausage at the IGA’s annual sale

ROCK CAVE – People may not be able to see the famously furry French Creek Freddie emerge from his den in person this year, but locals and visitors alike can still get their fix of ‘ground hog’ sausage.

Normally, Upshur County would be preparing for the annual Groundhog Day Festival, but COVID-19 has prevented the festivities from taking place. However, Rock Cave IGA is not letting that stop them from making and selling their famous staple ‘groundhog sausage.’

The annual sale started Wednesday, Jan. 27 and will continue through Feb. 9.

Co-owner of IGA and Fish Hawk Acres Chef Dale Hawkins said the traditional sale was started 27 years ago by his father Glen Hawkins, who sold 600 pounds of ‘ground hog’ sausage.

“Last year, we did 16 tons of sausage and we ran out,” Hawkins said. “There’s breakfast sausage, hot breakfast sausage, extra sage, hot Italian, mild Italian, sweet Italian, chorizo, bratwurst, andouille and plain ground pork, all made at IGA.”

He said orders of more than 30 pounds will have to be pre-ordered, but still recommended calling in advance.

“I think one of the reasons it’s so popular is my dad has just marketed the heck out of it and then secondly, it’s a good price, you know – it’s $1.88 a pound if you get 10 pounds or more, so the price is good,” Hawkins said. “Lastly, I would say the quality of the product; I think it’s better than brand names.”

The sausage will not be available in large quantities at Fish Hawk Acres, but there is a limited quantity available in the meat case at a different price and Hawkins likes to use the extra sage sausage in their sausage gravy, available in the biscuits and gravy or in the grab and go case.

“We have the gravy in the case, so that’s probably the only thing that we’re doing right now,” Hawkins said. “We’re having such a hard time keeping up with the grab and go right now. You look at it right now, and it’s nice and full but at six o’clock tonight, it’ll be empty again.”

Hawkins also recommended using the various sausages in some of his favorite dishes.

“If I’m not doing the breakfast sausage, I love the Andouille or the chorizo. I like to use those in Cajun or Creole food,” he said. “I just did the menus for February and Fat Tuesday starts the 16th, so we’ll be using some of that in gumbo or jambalaya. The Italian sausages are really good, particularly the sweet Italian sausage makes really good meatballs, so I like to make spaghetti and meatballs. It’s simple, but it’s also just so good and it’s lean that it stands on its own.”

Groundhog Day is Tuesday, Feb. 2, and although French Creek Freddie’s popular weather prediction won’t be viewable in person, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has promised to update the public on Freddie’s prediction by noon on its social media pages.

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