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Dustin Merseth, owner of Downtown Meats, shows the stadium brats that will be sold at the Sanford Center through a partnership between the two entities. Downtown Meats recently obtained USDA certification allowing for the wholesaling of a dozen of its best-selling products. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Downtown Brat comes to Sanford Center

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BEMIDJI – The Downtown Brat has come to the Sanford Center.

Bemidji’s Sanford Center has partnered with Downtown Meats to offer the local business’ stadium brat at the event center.

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The brat, which first was made available at last weekend’s Bemidji State women’s hockey games, will be featured this weekend as the Beaver men take on the University of Denver.

“We’ve got a great new product, something we really believe everyone is going to love,” said Tiffany Vickaryous, the food and beverage director for the Sanford Center. “It has a great flavor to it. I think it’s going to be a fabulous addition.”

The brat will be showcased at the 7:37 p.m. game Friday. Regularly priced at $4.50, the Downtown Brat will be available for $3, Vickaryous said.

“One of our main priorities is working with local businesses, trying to work with them to get their local fare here at the Sanford Center, she said.

Dustin Merseth, Downtown Meats owner since 2003, said the business supports the Sanford Center, through advertising and event participation, so the partnership is ideal.

“I believe Bemidji’s growing,” Merseth said. “The timing with the Sanford Center worked out for them to become part of this community. To be able to take part in that is a good opportunity for us.”

He said the potential partnership with the Sanford Center sparked his interest in pursuing USDA certification, which also allows him to pursue wholesaling opportunities.

“I always kind of wanted to (explore) the possibility of putting my product on the shelf,” he said.

Downtown Meats began the USDA process in March 2011. Merseth said several of his products have now been certified, including the brat, summer sausage and chicken and turkey brats.

“As far as the future, the sky’s the limit,” he said. “We do like the idea of exploring wholesaling. I did submit a dozen products – really good sellers – that I could possibly see on the shelf in the future and they have been licensed.”

The “Downtown Brat” is not the first local brat to be sold through the Sanford Center. The venue in 2010 sold the Stittsworth Meats brat, but the business was not USDA certified so the partnership was dissolved.

“Stittsworth is not USDA certified but Downtown Meats has been and they have been very interested in getting in here,” Vickaryous said. “We couldn’t be more happy about that.”

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