Oregon Cheese Festival – Top USA Festivals

Central Point

Rogue Creamery, 311 N Front Street

Mid-March

www.oregoncheesefestival.com

Turophiles rejoice! The Oregon Cheese Festival is for you. Granted, turophile is an obscure word, but it means a lover of cheese, or connoisseur of cheese, and there’s probably at least a little turophile in all of us, and nowhere better to sate your cheesy culinary desires than this increasingly popular, joyous celebration of all things cheese. The weekend-long Oregon Cheese Festival occupies two huge heated tents at Rogue Creamery in Central Point—15,000 square feet of cheese, cheese products, and cheese education, along with a variety of local and regional alcoholic beverages, local artisan foods, and more.

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For a modest entry fee (at the door or in advance), attendees can sample a vast array of cow, goat, and sheep cheeses from Oregon creameries and watch a variety of demonstrations by creamery and culinary experts. The annual lineup is literally a who’s who of Oregon cheese producers, ranging from the biggest creameries to the little-known outstanding boutique cheesemakers. An additional beverage fee (21 and over only) includes a collectible wine glass, etched with the Oregon Cheese Guild logo, for imbibing in craft ales, local wines, and ciders, and even try a variety of spirits produced right here in the Northwest. Kids and adults alike love the calves and kid goats on hand to showcase the beginnings of great milk producers, and the festival provides an array of other activities just for children. In recent years, nearly

5,000 people and some 100 vendors attend Oregon Cheese Festival, everyone reveling in the relaxed farmers’-market-style atmosphere.

Open from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday, the festival commences Friday night with the annual Meet the Cheesemakers Dinner featuring a special guest each year along with a host of Oregon cheesemakers. Proceeds from this special multicourse meal benefit the nonprofit Oregon Cheese Guild, founded in 2006 and dedicated to the art and craft of making cheese. The guild is a collaborative effort to increase awareness of Oregon’s artisanal cheeses, create educational opportunities, and provide a platform for cooperation and shared resources among Oregon cheesemakers. Buy tickets to the dinner via the Cheese Festival website, but do so well in advance.

The host of Oregon Cheese Festival, USDA-certified organic Rogue Creamery, has operated since the 1930s, and its founder, Tom Vella, was both a visionary and a pioneer in the industry. He died at the age of 100 in 1998 and the business was inherited by his wife and four children.

They eventually sold the business to the current owners who have continued in the spirit of the founding family.

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