The 2016 12th annual Oregon Cheese Festival is history and has to be counted as a huge success. The only problem was the number of attendees made it difficult to see all the vendors! A constant refrain heard in the crowd was “There are just too many people!”
As in the past, the Central Point Police Department did an awesome job directing the traffic flow for both vehicles and pedestrians The addition of another tent across the street from the Rogue Creamery location and main display venue, made crossing Highway 99 an interesting experience for everyone.
The use of paper tickets instead of the punch-able wristbands for wine and beer tasting was not a good move for the tasters. It may have benefit for the vendors, but the tasters had difficulty keeping track of the tickets.
Another change that turned into a yea-boo affair was the addition of tables and chairs, but only in one location. Prior years that had seating available around the tent perimeter were a popular feature especially for older and disabled visitors. The hay bales used several years ago probably caused some allergic reactions, but they were a handy spot to take a quick break! The outdoor tables and chairs in the area across from Rogue Creamery were favorite spots since the interior of the tents got very warm, and the weather outside was nearly perfect.
The face painting was an appreciated art form for both adults and children. The area set aside for young children was a gift for parents. It not only let the little ones have some interesting projects, it gave parents a respite from trying to keep track of the kiddies in the crowds.
Specialty food vendors included ALMA Chocolates, Branson’s Chocolates, Buttercloud Bakery, Coquette Bakery, Gary West Smoked Meat, G.G. Sugarplum Bakeshop, Gone Rogue Fusion Spices, Harry and David, Homemade Confections, Lillie Belle Chocolates, Our Favorite Foods, USA Pears, Sherry’s Pasta, Shibui, Vintner’s Kitchen, Wagon Trail Foods, and Wilderness Poets. They were joined by beverage vendors which included 30 Brix, 2Hawk, Agate Ridge, Apple Outlaw, Belle Fiore, Caprice, Clear Creek,
Cliff Creek, Devitt, DRY Soda, Hard Times, Hot Lips Soda, Immortal Spirits, Jaxon, Klamath Basin, LaBrasseur, Ledger David, Naked, Planktown, Rogue Ales, Serra Vineyards, Sierra Nevada, Wandering Aengus, and Willamette Valley Vineyards
The Oregon Cheese Guild is to be complimented by their continued promotion of the Oregon Cheese industry as well as showcasing so many fine Oregon products. The Inn at the Commons hosted the five course dinner on Friday night before the Festival that focused on cheese and beverage pairings. It gave a unique opportunity for visitors to meet some expert cheese makers and learn some insider information about the cheese industry.
The Oregon Cheese Festival is a growing entity that will prove to be of value for a long time since the sponsors and vendors show a desire to keep it fresh and new. Make a date for next year in March so you don’t miss a worthwhile Rogue Valley event.
The addition of on-line ability to purchase discounted tickets was definitely a good idea and if the crowds keep growing, it may become the only way to manage the crowds.