First Great Canadian Cheese Festival a huge success

Georgs Kolesnikovs, founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, welcomed more than 2,000 cheese lovers to the inaugural event.

More than 2,000 cheese lovers enjoyed the first-ever Great Canadian Cheese Festival last weekend, assuring the event will become an annual fixture on the Canadian cheese calendar.

Total attendance was an amazing 2,246, with the Artisan Cheese & Fine Food Fair drawing 1,607 cheese fans from as far as New Zealand. (OK, the Kiwis were visiting family in Ottawa.) The Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala, with close to 400 guests, was a sell-out. The Cheese-Tasting Seminars were at capacity. The Cheese Tours sold out two weeks earlier.

Many exhibitors reported selling more cheese during the five-hour Fair than in any other five hours in their experience. One Quebec prominent cheesemaker reserved booth space for the next 10 years. All eight chefs asked to be invited back for the Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala.

June 1-3 are the dates for 2012, again at historic Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest-growing culinary destination and Canada’s newest VQA wine region.

More than 100 artisan cheeses were available for tasting and purchase, including the cheddars of Black River Cheese.
Fromagerie du Presbytère was one of 14 cheese producers from Québec represented.
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese was one of the 10 Ontario cheesemakers at the Festival.
County wineries, such as The Grange of Prince Edward, and Ontario craft breweries offered tastings.
The ambiance of historic Cystal Palace and the surrounding grounds was perfect for a Cheese Fair.
Cheese, wine, beer and artisanal food: recipe for a great day in the country.
Good eats and good companions, who could ask for more?
Dairy Farmers of Canada presented winners of the 2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in a guided tasting led by Debbie Levy.
The tasting plate of Grand Prix winners.
Henderson Farms was among the artisanal food producers at the Sunday Fair.
Slow Food the County dispensed recipes and information.
Andrew Laliberté offers a taste of Fifth Town Artisan Cheese.
Anything this golden must be Jersey du Fjord!
Huff Estates Winery pours a sample for tasting.
What or who has the rapt attention of these children and one parent?
Petra Kassun-Mutch and Stephanie Diamant (at left) demonstrating how cheese is made and offering children (and adults) tips on how to taste cheese.
Another treat for children as well as adults was the visit by Big Momma from Ontario Water Buffalo Company.
Big Momma brought along a four-week-old baby but all he wanted to do was nap.
Waupoos Estates Winery was the first winery established in Prince Edward County.
Volunteers such as this tasting-ticket seller were key to the smooth running of the Festival.
A full day of Cheese-Tasting Seminars on Saturday preceded the Cheese Fair on Sunday.
Stephanie Skinner represented Culture, Official Magazine of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival.
A cooler bag for hauling home purchased cheese was included in the price of advance tickets.
Everyone wanted a souvenir snapshot with our Cheese-Head-in-Chief. Here he is with the staff of Culinarium in Toronto.

All photos courtesy of, the home page for residents of Prince Edward County.

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  1. Lovely setting, amazing selection and variety. A little crowded in the Palace but still managed to see everything. Looking forward to next year.

  2. Really enjoyed the cheese festival. Had a great time. Looking forward to next year. Still enjoying the many cheeses I purchesed.

  3. Wonderful variety of cheeses. Still enjoying my purchases. Will consider going to all the events next year over the three days instead of just going on the Sunday.

  4. I haven’t met Petra Kassun personally but beside having awards as an Artisan Cheese Maker , she is supporting a Grass Root Project to bring three Mapuche Native People from Chile that came the 13 th of June to a Dairy Sheep Farm in Olds Alberta to learn how to raise and milk these breed of sheep.
    Beside of contributing with money to buy this kind of specific breed to start the herd in Chile ( we already did that part of the project and there will be new born sheep in September , spring in Chile, to start the process of milking and making cheese) Petra is hosting them for the month of august at Fifth Town Cheese Factory to give them training on cheese making..
    They will be back in Chile in September with new tools and much hope to improve the life of their native communities that struggle so much to survive keeping their culture and traditions based on the respect and care of Mother Earth .
    This Project is not done by an organization, but by regular Canadians, People of the Mapuche Communities of Temucuicui and Rankilko and myself, a Mapuche native living in Canada, who believe that AN OTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE.

    All our THANKS and RESPECT to Petra

  5. Big Momma’s name is Yvette. She was born and raised near Woodstock, Vermont and is now a resident of Stirling, Ontario. Yvette is one of our top producers and thanks to Kent and Carey, her personal trainers, she is the easiest buff to handle. She lives traveling and meeting people and never turns down the chance to give you a ride in her back! Look for Yvette at the 4th Annual Water Buffalo Food Festival August 2012 in Stirling, Ontario. Check out

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