In case you need yet another reason to visit the beautiful state of Maine this fall, make a trip for the re-launch of the Maine Cheese Festival. After a ten-year hiatus, the event will open its doors in the bucolic background of Savage Oaks Vineyard in Union, Maine, on Sunday, October 16, 2016, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are only $10 per adult, and children under 12 are free.
Maine cheesemakers look to define the state as a go-to source for cheese, and this festival will help them get there. Jessie Dowling of Fuzzy Udder Creamery in Whitefield told the Bangor Daily News, “You think about maple syrup. You think about lobster. We want you to think, oh Maine is somewhere to get awesome cheese.”
The event will feature over 20 of Maine’s 81 cheesemakers. Several of the creameries featured at the festival are recent winners of the American Cheese Society Judging & Competition—one of the top awards for North American cheese. Winners include
- Appleton Creamery, who won 1st place (2015) in Marinated Goat Cheese for Chevre in Olive Oil (their chèvre come in a number of varieties, such as marinated in olive oil with roasted garlic and herbs and wrapped in a brandied grape leaf);
- Barred Owl Creamery, who won 1st place (2015) in Sheep or Mixed Milk Feta for Organic Feta and 2nd place in Farmstead Cheese with Flavor Added for Hot Pepper Jelly Chevre (the peppers for the jelly are grown right on their farm);
- Swallowtail Farm and Creamery who won several awards including 2nd (2015) place in Cow’s Milk Ricotta for their Ricotta Salata (pictured above)—a fresh, milky, salty dried and pressed cheese; and
- Fuzzy Udder Creamery who won 3rd place (2016) in cow’s milk American Made/International Style for Tempest and 2nd place (2015) in Sheep or Mixed Milk Plain Yogurt for their Sheep Milk Yogurt, which is only available late April through October!
In addition to being able to taste over 100 cheeses, festivalgoers can watch cooking demonstrations, chat with cheesemakers, enjoy the vocal stylings of the classic country western bluegrass band Rough Swan, drink wine, and win cheesy raffles.
Some of these cheeses might be hard to find outside of Maine, so I strongly encourage non-Mainers to come, rain or shine, with your cooler in tow. Visit the Maine Cheese Guild’s event page to see an up-to-date list of participating creameries and where to purchase tickets. You can find tickets at a variety of retail outlets and farmer’s markets listed on the site or you can go digital and buy tickets online.
Need even more Maine cheese in your life? Spend your Columbus Day weekend on a state cheese-crawl for Open Creamery Day, complete with tastings and goat hugs!