The 2021 Cheese Festival has showcased the growing number of food and drink producers in the Dales.
The Courtyard Dairy shop near Settle, for instance, said it was selling cheese made by four local producers – up from none a few years ago.
In the latest Voices From The Dales episode, ‘Cheese Present’– out now on podcast apps – Courtyard Dairy boss Andy Swinscoe said his business was ‘part of a movement’.
Dozens of events were put on during the Cheese Festival long weekend (7-10 October), with more than 20 businesses participating in it and the Dales Countryside Museum running butter making demos and sharing dairying dialect.
Mr Swinscoe, who has been running Courtyard Dairy since 2012, said: “When we opened our shop we were about 50% French in range and about 30% from the south of England. What we’ve seen over the past ten years is a real switch. When we opened there wasn’t a raw, unpasteurised cheese maker within 40 miles. Now there are four, which is fabulous. If we could double it in the next five years, I’d be really happy.
“So our range has changed to have a more of a northern focus and more of a Yorkshire focus because the quality and availability of local farmhouse cheese has improved. We wouldn’t take credit for that but there’s no doubt we are part of a movement – a catalyst for farmers looking to go down that route.
“The Cheese Festival is a great way of showcasing what the region has. The future of the Dales relies on us creating produce that is unique to us. We have some fabulous hay meadows up here and we should capture that in the flavours of the cheese.”
Helen Dalton, part of the National Park Authority’s tourism support team which promotes the Cheese Festival, said: “We had 25 businesses offer to take part in the festival. The aim wasn’t to create a lot of work for them, as we are aware how busy they all are, but to promote the amazing products, recipes, menus and food experiences that they have to offer.
“The Wensleydale Creamery put on an array of cheese themed menus and experiences. Including their new Artisan Sharing Board and they offered a different cheese-flavoured scone each day. It was nice to see businesses working together and promoting each other. The Wensleydale Ice-Cream Parlour near Thornton Rust created some unique and inspiring flavours with Raydale Preserves and Fearne and Rosie – resulting in delicious local ice-creams.
She added: “We hope the Cheese Festival will grow and be even more spectacular next year. If you run a business which would like to be involved, please contact us directly as we really want the festival to stand out in people’s diaries.”
Listen to the full interview with Andy Swinscoe by searching for Voices From The Dales on podcast apps – or listen online via the Dales Countryside Museum website.