SA Cheese Festival 2011The SA Cheese Festival turns ten this year, celebrating a decade of showcasing cheeses of all sorts, shapes and sizes from around the country.

It’s always been a favourite of mine, even last year when I felt that it had lost its focus a bit, and was filling up the gaps of a rapidly expanding event with far too much commercially produced cheese, and not nearly enough of the more interesting artisan creations.

That said, I’m not sure a festival of its current size (over 31,600 visitors last year) is necessarily the right place for the artisans, simply because of the sheer quantities they would need to produce to have not only tasters for 4 solid days, but also a stockpile of cheeses to sell.  Artisans and small producers are generally about small-scale specialist production, so I’m guessing the monumental task of catering for so many people at once will often outweigh the promise of potential exposure.

With that in mind, this year I plan to go simply to have fun, and enjoy the atmosphere and generous tastings.  There is always something different, and this time around the event takes place in a brand new venue, Sandringham, located half way between Cape Town and Paarl on the N1.

Cheese Festival 2011

Here’s what’s in store for cheese-fans:

A shared passion for cheese brings together food lovers, artisan producers and other food champions in a single extraordinary event.  The Checkers Cheese Emporium, the main attraction in the Dairy Square, offers you the country’s largest selection of cheese under one roof, and the celebs of the Checkers Theatre will wow you with their daring use of cheese.  Saunter on to the Carnival Park where roaming artists will set the pace, and shop for an electric mix of delectable delicacies and prime wines; or simply relax while professional entertainers of the Wilde Fruit Juice Kiddies Corner keep the little ones amused for hours on end.

Take a journey of discovery along the Meander route and let doe-eyed cows, sheep and goats “tell” their story of milk; or sample sumptuous handmade products at the earthy country market.  Then enjoy the perfect end to a perfect day at the Cheese Festival: a memorable sunset over Table Mountain with good food and live music at Sandringham’s very own Waterfront.

Cheese Festival - Sandringham

According to organisers, the grounds are substantially larger than at Bien Donne (the festival’s former home) and boast expansive lawns and dams – all in all promising “a more pleasant experience with enough room to move around and to just sit-back-and-enjoy”.

It was getting a bit cramped before, so I definitely like the sound of that!

Event details: Tickets are the same price as last year: R110 for Saturday and Sunday and R90 for Friday and Monday. Senior citizens pay R70 and children 12 years and younger enter free.  The festival runs from 10:00 to 18:00 each day and 17:00 on the last day.  A limited number of tickets are available at Computicket and Checkers stores (no tickets at the gates).

Festival hamper and ticket giveaway

This year, we’re giving away an awesome food hamper plus 5 double tickets to the Cheese Festival!  In the hamper: Willow Creek goodies and 6 bottles of Overhex sparkling wine.


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