The ninth annual Cheese… It’s Natural celebration takes place Saturday, March 19, in Armstrong at the Hassen Arena. (Morning Star - file photo)

The ninth annual Cheese… It’s Natural celebration takes place Saturday, March 19, in Armstrong at the Hassen Arena. (Morning Star - file photo)

No holes in North Okanagan cheese festival

Ninth annual Cheese…It’s a Natural celebration set for Saturday, March 19, in Armstrong

Cheese City is ready for a Gouda Saturday.

The City of Armstrong will once again be home to everything cheese, locally produced and processed food and more as they host its ninth annual Cheese…It’s A Natural event Saturday, March 19, at Hassen Arena.

“This year the popular event will again feature two opportunities for cheese lovers to enjoy the taste of artisan cheese produced in the North Okanagan as well as from other areas of the region,” said Patti Noonan, executive director of the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce – the main organizers of the festival.

New this year is the Local Food and Buyers Mixer event on Friday, March 18. It is an industry-only event that brings together local food growers, processors and buyers. Vendors will have the opportunity to showcase their produce and products and meet the region’s buyers, including restaurants, hotels and retailers, who are interested in increasing the local products they use, stock and sell.

“For local producers and processors, this event provides a great opportunity to sell to two audiences over two days: to local buyers during this mixer event, and to the public on Saturday during the festival,” said Noonan. “For regional buyers, this event provides the opportunity to connect with the local food available here. Buyers, registered by March 15, will receive a local food tasting package and complimentary beverage at Friday’s event.”

Pre-registration is necessary – contact the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.

The mixer is made possible through the support of ETSI-BC and is a partnership with Land 2 Table, Design Farm Inc and the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.

Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday in Hassen Arena, cheesemakers, artisan food and beverage producers will provide samples and information. Those attending will pick up an event pass which will allow one complimentary tasting from each exhibitor until 3 p.m. Products will also be available for purchase just in case you find something you can’t live without. The daytime event is $2 per person – and being a food-centric event, donations of a non-perishable item for the ‘Feed the Valley’ program in support of the Armstrong Food Bank will be accepted.

During the event, Canadian Cheese Ambassador David Beaudoin will host cheese seminars at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Registration for the seminars is a must and you can do this at the welcome table.

“David built a successful business with a product known as Squeaky Cheese as well as leading and operating one of the oldest cheese factories in B.C.,” said Noonan. “Now working as a Cheese Ambassador with the Dairy Farmers of Canada, David will surely educate and entertain with his great knowledge and profound passion for cheese.”

North Okanagan cheese producers White Drop Cheese, Terroir Cheese, The Village Cheese Co., Grass Root Dairies, Triple Island Farms and Tanto Latte will share the spotlight with new addition 100 per cent Canadian Milk products.

Artisan food producers and processors including After Dark Distillery Ltd., Angel Acres, Baccata Ridge Winery, BC Brine, Bernie’s Turbo Spice, Crannóg Ales, Edge of the Earth Vineyards, Enderberry Farm/Shuswap Organics, Farmstrong Cider Company, Fieldstone Organics, Finca Las Margaritas Coffee, Frosted Tier Cakes, Handmade by Georgia & Company, Heritage Kitchen, House of Armstrong Bean & Brew, Indigo Valley Haskap Berry Farm, Little Red Hen Artisan Bakery, Our Little Acre, Pure, She Devil Delights,Taste of Egypt, Waterside Winery and Wedge Cheesery will all be on hand offering samples of what the valley has to offer. Follow the Facebook event page to see any additional vendors.

Think you are the ‘big cheese’? Don’t miss the ‘Cheese ball ‘and ‘Grilled Cheese’ competitions. Amateur cheese ball entries will be accepted from 10 – 11 a.m. with judging at 11 a.m. The amateur grilled cheese competition begins at 11 a.m. Winners of both amateur contest plus the winner of the ‘Great Grilled Cheese Restaurant Challenge’ will be announced at 12 p.m. with bragging rights for an entire year.

At 6 p.m., join in at ‘Meet the Cheesemakers’ and enjoy an intimate experience, guided by Beaudoin. This event includes six carefully selected cheese tastings that showcase cheese proudly featuring the 100 per cent Canadian Milk’ designation as well as local produce, artisan products and beverages.

Every bite has been carefully curated to highlight delicious artisan cheese in a relaxed atmosphere.

Tickets are $60 and must be purchased by March 15 –no tickets at the door and you must be 19+ to attend. Doors open at 6 p.m. – first course will be circulated at 6:45 p.m. followed by the seating courses at 7 p.m.

This event is made possible by: Cheese Ambassador David Beaudoin, Dairy Farmers of Canada, BC Dairy Famers, ETSI-BC, Government of Canada, Avalon Event Rentals, Township of Spallumcheen, City of Armstrong, Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce, Land 2 Table, Design Farm Inc., Bluegrass Farm B&B, Green Lions Farms, Askew’s Foods Armstrong, Armstrong Regional Co-op in addition to the volunteers and food/beverage producers.

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FestivalFood & Dining