Last month, the California Artisan Cheese Festival announced the beginning of ticket sales for its 12th annual Festival, held March 23rd-25th, 2018; beginning January 1st, 2018, tickets to the three-day event will become available.
I reached out to Judy Groverman Walker, the festival’s Executive Director, to find out more about this unique event; its new venue at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California; and the cheese makers, mongers, chefs, enthusiasts, and others attending the event.
“There are very few opportunities in the United States to attend a festival like the California Artisan Cheese Festival,” says Judy. “You can sample and purchase cheese from more than two dozen cheesemakers—allowing you to taste and experience many different styles and types of cheese; you can learn from the experts at seminars and panel discussions on topics such as pairing cheese and hoppy vs. sour beer, how to evaluate cheese like a cheese judge, exploring your palate and cheese and more; you can take a farm or creamery tour; explore cheese and spirits; and discover new and great products to accompany your favorite cheeses. And the cheesemakers have the opportunity to interact directly with the consumer at tasting events, during seminars, and on the farm and creamery tours.”
The Festival’s three-day-long public format features tours of production facilities, a cheese-focused culinary competition, seminars and demonstrations, tastings and a marketplace featuring more than 115 artisan producers of cheese, wine, beer, ciders, and other specialty food offerings. And with a somewhat larger venue this year, the 12th annual Festival, Judy tells me that this year’s marketplace will feature both guest cheesemakers from outside the area and additional artisan food vendors at the Festival’s Sunday Marketplace.
“This year’s Festival moves to a new location—the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, allowing us more space to grow and showcase our California cheesemakers in a venue rich in agricultural tradition,” Judy explains, noting that the new location will allow the Festival to continue its mission of celebrating and educating the public on the merits of artisan cheeses and cheesemaking.
“The California Artisan Cheese Festival is a nonprofit organization with the mission to educate people who want to learn more about artisan cheese, support the artisan cheesemaking community and its sustainability, and celebrate and enjoy the creations of the artisan cheesemakers,” Judy surmises. “We have worked to maintain that mission over the last decade—always striving to provide relevant topics for seminars and panel discussions taught by experts and industry leaders; showcasing California cheesemakers and their cheeses with help from mongers, chefs and products that complement; and allowing the public access to taste and experiment with the vast array of cheeses—to learn how they pair or complement different artisan products and beverages.”
Tickets for the 12th Annual California Artisan Cheese Festival—held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa—go on sale January 1st, 2018 and can be purchased at www.artisancheesefestival.com. Supplies are limited, with many events expected to sell out quickly.