This weekend marks the inaugural event of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, “dedicated to celebrating, exploring, and preserving unique food traditions and their cultural contexts in the American Midwest.” Though the organization is still in its infancy it has some heavy hitters behind it, including Roosevelt University food historian Bruce Kraig, Kendall Culinary Arts Dean Chris Koetke, LTH-er and Chicago Culinary Historian-Foodways Roundtabler Cathy Lambrecht, and food scientist Kantha Shelke. The very idea of the organization indicates it has the potential to attract the kind of funding that the heavily budgeted and highly successful Southern Foodways Alliance wins (on which it is modeled)–and a number of commercial food producers have ponied up cash and product to get things rolling.

Saturday’s program is titled “Stuffed: A Journey of Midwest Sausage Traditions” and itself features a formidable roster of sausage scholars, including Andy Smith, editor in chief of the newly updated Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Buz Waldmire of Cozy Dog in Springfield (home of the corn dog), and my pal Peter Engler, who has singlehandedly rescued the South Side mother-in-law from obscurity. Lunch alone may be worth the cover charge, featuring Vienna Beef hot dogs, corn dogs, Michigan’s Coney dogs, brats and sauerkraut, sausages from Ream’s Elburn Market, Toledo’s Tony Packo hot dogs, mother-in-laws, and a Milwaukee specialty known as “sausage salad.”

It starts at 9 AM at at Kendall College, 900 N. Branch. Registration is $35.