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Despite Organizational Challenges, Cheese Festivals Increase In Presence & Popularity
State and regional cheese festivals continue to sprout up across the country and while organizers agree that setting up an event is a challenge, festivals ultimately benefit the artisan cheese community through public education, added exposure and at the very least, one-day sales.
Getting the cheese-loving public to attend is the easy part. Enlisting sponsors, recruiting volunteers, finding the right venue and establishing crowd control is part of a planning process that can take anywhere from six months to a year.
For cheese makers, taking time off to attend the event and the cost of handing out free samples is also taken into consideration.
One of the most well-established festivals – the sixth annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival at Shelburne Farms – just wrapped up last weekend with another sell-out crowd.
The original impetus for the festival was a celebration during an American Cheese Society (ACS) conference in Burlington, said Tom Bivins, executive director for the Vermont Cheese Council and festival coordinator.
Initially organized by Vermont Creamery, the festival continued the next year during a milestone anniversary year for the creamery.
It was such a success that Vermont Creamery gave the festival to the Vermont Cheese Council as a way to fund the Council’s initiatives and assist in creating financial resources to hire an executive director, Bivins said.
The most recent guest total at the festival – including vendors,
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