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Cheesed Off

14 August 2017 | Lloyd Hughes

Cheese is bloody delicious, so I can understand the frustration if you turn up to a cheese festival and the main ingredient – cheese – is distinctly lacking.

I’ve never actually organised a cheese festival (funnily enough), so I’m not talking from a position of experience here, however if I were tasked with organising one, I’m fairly certain I’d do my utmost to ensure there was a decent selection on offer – it’s pretty much cheese festival 101. I mean, imagine turning up to a day-long music festival only to find that one band was playing and their 30-minute set was already done by midday?

It’s no wonder then that attendees at this weekend’s Brighton Cheese Festival were pretty cheesed off (raucous laughter and rapturous applause, please) when they arrived at the homage to fromage, only to find hardly any on display (according to angry tweets) apart from one ‘artisan cheese stall’ and, appallingly, an hour-long queue for the Haloumi fries.

The festival in its run up had promised the works; cheese wheels, fondue, nachos, baked camembert and more, with all being shown in its show reel, only for none of this to be forthcoming at the actual event.

With attendees having paid £6 for a pre-booked ticket they were at least expecting an array of cheeses to choose from – but farmers market expectation was sadly misplaced. The event was focused more on serving fresh and hot cheese related food to order – not filling a larder with a rare selection of hard cheeses.

Apparently the festival had over 1,000 attendees at any one time for only 20 stalls, so it’s unsurprising queues for freshly cooked food soon caused chaos. Perhaps the organisers underestimated demand? One of the many lessons I’ve learned in life is not to underestimate the British appetite for cheese.

According to the festival organisers the Sunday was a great success but Saturday had a few ‘technical difficulties’ – or hardly any cheese, as numerous food bloggers and restaurant critics alleged. Jay Rayner referred to it as a ‘food festival disaster in real time’.

Festivals can be an organisational nightmare as Billy blogged last week, so every last detail needs to be thought through if they’re to be a success. Any potential issues are only likely to spiral out of control once Joe Public gets involved.

Here’s hoping the next cheese festival enjoys more success, however I won't be risking it until all the creases have been firmly ironed out.