PITTSFIELD — Hundreds of cheese lovers gathered along the Sebasticook River at Manson Park on Sunday for the 4th annual Maine Cheese Festival.
The festival, which was founded by the Maine Cheese Guild, ran from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and featured food and merchandise from more than 50 Maine-based vendors, a beer and wine garden, live music and cheesemaking demonstrations.
Some of the festival’s featured vendors included Allagash Brewing Co., Kennebec Cheesery, Maine Water Buffalo Farm and Stone Fox Farm Ice Cream.
Arlene Brokaw, the guild’s vice president and event coordinator, said nearly 2,000 people were expected to attend the festival.
“We sold about 600 tickets during pre-sale, but we’re expecting way more to be sold at the door,” Brokaw said. “We’ll probably see 1,500 to 2,000 people here today.”
And it is this large turnout that has Brokaw most happy.
“It’s so heartwarming to see so many people come out and support local businesses and cheesemakers,” Brokaw said.
The proceeds from the festival are put back into the guild so the organization can continue funding workshops for cheese makers and local businesses to network and grow their craft, according to Brokaw.
“It helps us do our job which is to encourage and support local businesses and cheese making,” Brokaw said.
Also in attendance were representatives from the University of Maine, who distributed a survey to festival-goers for the purpose of helping the Maine Cheese Guild better understand its audience.
Stephanie Welcomer, a professor at the UMaine Business School, described the survey as being part of a partnership the university has had with the guild for several years.
“We both wanted to help one another, we can conduct research while helping the guild understand their target market better,” Welcomer said. “So the survey asks questions related to price point, the type of cheese people prefer, what people enjoy the most about a certain kind of cheese…”
Once attendees took the survey, they also had the chance to enter a raffle for a $25 cash prize that Welcomer said she hoped the winners would spend on one thing.
“Cheese, of course I hope the winners will spend the money on cheese,” Welcomer said.
More information on the Maine Cheese Guild and the festival can be found at https://mainecheeseguild.org/?p=5257