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Expect all the big cheeses at Great Canadian Cheese Festival

The sun shone on cheese enthusiasts on day two of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. The extravaganza at the Crystal Palace was brimming with visitors. Many enjoyed meeting the sheep and water buffalo in the dairy farm section. The fun continues Sunday.

Georgs Kolesnikovs, founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, welcomed more than 2,000 cheese lovers to the inaugural event last year.

There’s a reason people smile when they say “cheese” and those smiles will be ear-to-ear during Canada’s biggest ever national showcase of artisan cheese June 1-3 at the Crystal Palace in Picton.

More than 2,200 people attended last year’s debut event. Georgs Kolesnikovs, event organizer and head cheese, notes the tally surpassed all expectations as hoped-for attendance was set at 1,500.

More than 125 different cheeses will be on display – the handiwork of more than 30 producers from Vancouver Island to Prince Edward Island.  This year, artisan food producers, craft wineries and breweries and other exhibitors and vendors will occupy another 50 booths.

The main event is the Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3, featuring a cheese marketplace, artisan food booths featuring more than 200 different foods to sample.

The festival’s own Cheese Dairy Farm will feature cows, goats, sheep and water buffalo, artisan cheesemaker Stephanie Diamant, leading farmer John Nyman, 4-H club members, and Moonika, a life-size mechanical cow that you can try to milk yourself, thanks to the Farm To Table program of Dairy Farmers of Canada.

The festival’s food court will feature Cheesewerks, the Official Grilled Cheese of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, as well as Primitive Cuisine, Buddha Dog and milkshakes made on the spot by 4-H Club Prince Edward County members.

Seminars are being held in the All you Need Is Cheese® Annex presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada. Learn about the best in Canadian cheese at special presentations conducted by leading cheese educator Deborah Levy.

Food Network star Bob Blumer will demonstrate how to transform an ordinary backyard barbecue into a rustic pizza oven Saturday afternoon. He’ll up the ante by using artisan cheeses in the demonstration. He’ll also make a guest appearance at the Cooks & Curds Gala on Saturday evening offering guests a blue-cheese cappuccino dessert.

A culinary adventurer, chef, artist and seven time Guinness World Record holder, Blumer is the creator and host of the television series Surreal Gourmet, and Glutton for Punishment, and a producer and host of World’s Weirdest Restaurants. His shows air in more than 20 countries world-wide.


Family Day at the Cheese Fair is Sunday, June 3, with children (under age 13) admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult.

Kris Holden-Reid, co-star of the Lost Girl hit television series will make grilled-cheese sandwiches Sunday at the Cheesewerks stand to help raise funds for a scholarship for a young Canadian pursuing a career in cheese. Cheesewerks is a Toronto restaurant that features cheese on every plate. Co-owner Kevin Durkee and the actor are developing a signature sandwich especially for the festival.

Cheese Fair adult admission includes: Access to all sponsors, exhibitors and vendors – with close to 200 products to sample 10 tasting tickets for cheese, artisan foods, wine and beer, valued at $10; souvenir festival glass for sampling wine and beer; souvenir festival insulated bag for your purchases; admittance on first-come, first-served basis to cheese seminars presented by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the festival dairy farm and the food court. Free parking.

The advance ticket price is $35. At the event, the price will be $40. There is no fee charged on online ticket purchases. Youth and child tickets for the Cheese Fair are available, without the glass and cooler bag. All other festival events are age of majority only.

For $50, you can also sign up for tutored tastings  — everything from pairing wines with cheese, presented by wine expert David Lawrason, to “Best of the West,” an introduction to the cheeses of Western Canada with Janice Beaton of Janice Beaton Cheese and Farm Restaurant of Calgary.

On the evening of Saturday, June 2, a Cooks and Curds gala will be held, in which eight of Canada’s top chefs will be serving dishes they have created using different cheeses from across the country, each paired with a Canadian wine, craft beer or cider. The National Arts Centre’s Michael Blackie, who won the people’s choice award last year, will be serving a creation he calls the Highland Blue cubic melt, using cheese from Lanark’s Back Forty. Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy and two Top Chef Canada contestants will also be participating. Admission to the Cooks and Curds gala is $100 (the first sitting is already sold out).

* * *

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario. Dairy Farmers of Canada is Diamond Sponsor, Ontario’s Artisan Food and Beverage Region (FAB) is Gold Sponsor. A portion of Festival proceeds benefits a Cheese Scholarship Fund to encourage young Canadians to pursue careers in cheese.


Filed Under: Arts & CultureLocal NewsWineries-Cider-Breweries

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