The festival hosted over 40 cheesemakers, 20 wineries and breweries, and 15 artisan food producers. Volunteering for vendor setup was an awesome move - it gave us the chance to chat up several different cheesemakers while we were helping them set up their stands, before the flood of visitors arrived and cheese-fest mayhem set in. After set-up we took a walk around and met another handful of outstandingly friendly and helpful people all while sampling some of the most amazing artisan cheeses the US has to offer.
Marisa Mauro chatted with us about her experiences making cheese all over the country before finally recently launching her own Ploughgate Creamery in Vermont. Jill Jones from the historic Crowley Cheese (the country's oldest continuously operating cheese factory founded in 1824) imparted some wisdom about scale and spoke to us about how hard it is to find the right balance - too small and you’re not supporting yourselves, too big and you’re running a labor force instead of making cheese! Tim Hollander from Bob White Systems helped us to better understand the intricacies involved in setting up one’s own micro-creamery and passed along some great resources. Everyone we met and spoke with was so open and friendly - happy to answer our dozens of questions and even invite us for a visit!
Having the chance to speak and connect with cheesemakers of all different ages, experience levels, and business models was priceless and we hope to see them in action on their home turf soon!
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