Maine has brew fests, strawberry fests, potato fests and lobster fests. Finally after a decade-long hiatus, the Maine Cheese Festival returns October 16th to celebrate farm-fresh fromage and raise its artisan profile.
Run by The Maine Cheese Guild, the one-day fundraiser highlights local cheeses like Hullabaloo from Imagine Dairy Farm in Warren and mozzarella from water buffalos in Appleton to shed light on the expanding industry. The last time this festival was held, there were merely 16 licensed cheesemakers in Maine. Today there are 81, many of which are small scale producers.
“The time is right to promote cheese in Maine,” said Jessie Dowling, the guild’s vice president and owner of Fuzzy Udder Creamery in Whitefield. “We will showcase over 100 different types of cheeses that Mainers are making. It’s an opportunity for people to buy, taste and learn about cheese.”
Held at Savage Oakes Vineyard in Union, there will be wine pairings, a baker and local chefs on hand to teach consumers inventive ways to experience this flexible food as more than a cracker embellishment. A wide-range of flavors and textures from over 20 creameries will be tasted, sold and touted. “It’s kind of like the Common Ground Fair on a small scale,” said Dowling, adding that this is a chance to meet your cheesemaker.
A coterie of young cheesemakers like Arlene Brokaw, the big cheese at Imagine Dairy Farm, are ready. “It’s going to be a blast. I’m really excited,” said Brokaw, who launched her coveted line of fresh cow’s milk cheese spreads and a raw, aged blue in 2014.
Members of the nonprofit guild hope the event will establish Maine cheese as a brand and raise its market presence in the buy local economy.
“You think about maple syrup. You think about lobster. We want you to think, oh Maine is somewhere to get awesome cheese,” said Dowling. “We buy milk from a lot of farmers. It’s a way to keep the dairy industry alive.”
Tickets are $10 can be purchased at the door or at mainecheeseguild.org. Kids under 12 attend free. At Savage Oakes Vineyard & Winery, 174 Bartlett Hill Road, Union.