Last month was our very first cheese festival and it seems to have been a great success!
We approached local businesses and suppliers, farms and other attractions to help us put on a fantastic week of events and activities to celebrate our local produce, in particular cheese!
The celebrations kicked off with a two day mini festival at the Wensleydale Creamery on the 23rd – 24th September. Businesses and suppliers put on a wonderful display of all their merchandise in a big marquee and visitors got the opportunity to meet the suppliers and sample their produce.
But it didn’t stop there!
There was an array of free events and ticketed events targeted at all ages. Wensleydale Creamery hosted cheese-making and grading demonstrations, cookery demonstrations and cheese pairing and tasting workshops.
Local businesses – farm shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants all got involved by putting on delicious menus featuring cheese or based around local produce, all helping celebrate the rich cheese-making heritage of the Yorkshire Dales.
It was a brilliant opportunity for people to get an understanding of the work that is involved in producing these high quality foods, and also how important it is to support local businesses and to know where your local produce comes from. It was also a chance to speak to the experts of their trade and to sample the local delicacies.
Across the week there were plenty of ways to get involved, from presentations to exhibitions. We had our own events based at the Dales Countryside Museum, including guided walks. One was called Whey Hey! with the opportunity to learn about the history of milking; another, ‘The Milky Way’, included a talk about dairying and providing milk for the Wensleydale Creamery. We also took a step back in time for demonstrations in Making and Marketing Cheese in the Victorian Kitchen as well as getting hands on and having a go at making real butter at our Taste in Time event.
A free shuttle bus service was provided, running regularly between Wensleydale Creamery and Dales Countryside Museum.
On a final note, we would like to thank all businesses and suppliers for putting on a show and for bringing great all round cheese entertainment to the Dales!
We have a lot to thank the Cistercian monks for as they brought their fromage-making skills over from Normandy. They settled at abbeys such as Jervaulx and Fountains back in the 11th century and started making Wensleydale cheese! Imagine a world without Wensleydale cheese. I’d rather not.