This weekend saw the return of the much-missed Sturminster Cheese Festival – and the crowds were out in force to celebrate, and of course eat all the cheeses!
Sturminster Cheese festival was started by a group of Sturminster Newton locals, sponsored by the then local creamery owners Dairy Crest, in 1999 simply as an event to promote local cheese – not just that of the creamery in the town itself but also by other cheese makers in the area, and other small scale food producers were invited.
A committee was set up known as The Cheese Board, who worked with the local National Farmers Union. A programme of events over the second weekend of September was devised – local town establishments provided refreshments and a barbecue, the scout group provided a marquee tent on the recreation ground for stall holders and there was even a fashion show, live music and a quiz in the evening.
The weekend was such a success that a second event was planned for the following year… and the Sturminster Cheese Festival has this year celebrated its 22nd birthday!
Though the event is far larger than was originally conceived, the spriit remains the same; the weekend is a wonderful showcase for local food and drink producers, mixed with entertainment and interesting stalls from local producers, craftspeople and charities it’s a popular day out for the whole family.
This weekend, Sturminster Newton was busy for the entire weekend as visitors came from miles to explore the marquees and stalls – of course there was cheese in abdundance from a host of local producers, but it wasn’t all ‘la fromage’. Other produce ranged from cured meats to savoury biscuits, chutneys to bread. Mixed with the food stalls were local drink producers (gin, cider and real ales abounded both in the producer tents and also outside as takeaways from the entertainment area), and a vast range of local craftespeople demonstrating their skills.
It wasn’t just the children who were enthralled by the shows from Strawberry Jam (not going to lie, I was completely gripped by the science show myself), the popular and well-chosen local food vans seemingly had perennial queues, while the schedule of live bands kept the whole ground entertained.
It was wonderful to have the Cheese Festival weekend back – here’s to next year!