A week ago Sunday, (July 24th) I went with our friends Dan and Vita (you remember Vita…the chicken lady from Tenn, who had the “how many eggs did her chickens lay” contest and I got the rooster clock? Check out my blog titled “Daylight Savings”, if you need updating.) Okay, back to the topic at hand….CHEESE.
So, in the spring, Dan, Vita, Bob and I decided we wanted to attend this event. We had heard great things about it and of course, we all LOVE CHEESE. We knew that this event is very popular and the tickets go quickly, so as soon as they went on sale, we got our tickets (thanks Dan & Vita). The plan was that all four of us would go, but the life of innkeepers is such, that nothing is etched in stone, when plans are made. Fortunately, we had guests checking in that day, so unfortunately, one of us had to stay home to greet our guests. Bob graciously volunteered. (I have a terrific hubby, cause I REALLY WANTED TO GO, so thanks Bob for the sacrifice.) We headed up to Shelburne Farms, ice packs and cooler in the car, for cheese purchases. The weather was splendid that day, our mini heat wave broke, and perfect weather prevailed.
We arrived a bit after 11:00 am, purchased our wine glass. It was also a wine tasting event. (Would you believe, we didn’t have to show proof of being over 21, for the wine tasting? Okay, no snide remarks please, a girl? can have her fantasies!) You approach the massive Carriage Barn @ Shelburne Farms and there are huge tents filled with over 40 cheesemakers, 20 wineries and breweries, 20 artisan food producers. There were over 100 cheeses to sample and purchase. Oh boy, did we!
One of the event volunteers told us they stopped ticket sales at 1700! Last year they had 1500. This is great for the Vermont Cheese Council, but for those attending…IT IS A LOT OF PEOPLE. We thought it was a good event, but there could be some better organizing of how things are laid out. Unfortunately, everyone arrives at 11:00, when it opens, so getting to the wine and cheese is VERY difficult. If you go to a particular wine or cheesmaker and you want them to describe their products, it is so crowded, you either don’t want to take too long, because you know others are waiting, or you are the person waiting.
Now, what makes this a truly great event is that it is at Shelburne Farms. This property sits on Lake Champlain and it is gorgeous. The Carriage Barn is huge, the Inn is a sight to behold, with wonderful gardens, facing the lake. There is an on site cheesemaking facility. They are committed to sustainability, and they grow much of the produce/flowers they use at the inn. They also donate surplus food back to the community. They also have phenomenal education programs for the young and young at heart. The up close and personal connection their guests can make with the chickens, cows and other farm animals is great. We did our own self guided tour, but guided tours are available. A full day visit scratches the surface of this amazing place.
I would heartily recommend The Vermont Cheesemakers Festival and Shelburne Farms. The Cheesemakers Festival is held in July, so check out their website www.vtcheesefest.com for the 2012 details. My “insider” tip to you is….get there at the opening, but tour around the Farm first. We found that after about 1PM the tasting tables thinned out and you could take more time to sample. I didn’t talk about the cooking shows, or cheese demos, but don’t miss those either. SHELBURNE FARMS is open mid-May through mid-October. Come visit us at the Canterbury House and we can help you plan your visit to the farm. www.shelburnefarms.org