The First Annual Virginia Cheese Festival
Blacksburg hosted a cheese festival at the new Moss Arts Center this weekend and of course I had to be there. Cheese is one of my favorite foods, so much so I consider it it’s own food group. I can’t get enough of this stuff; from the fancy mozzarellas and sharp cheddars all the way down to Kraft Easy Mac. They’re all good in my book! So Him and I hit the festival as soon as doors opened (and we are glad we did because the place got packed, quick!)
First up was a fun cheese making demonstration by Blacksburg resident, Brenda Springer. Fun fact about her, every day without fail she milks her small herd of Fainting Goats! Each one yields two or three cups of milk a day, not much but she says it adds up fast. She shared her love of cheese with us by showing us the basic process of mozzarella making. She was fun and interacted with the crowd well. She also passed around a jar of cream so the audience could assist her in making butter by shaking vigorously, just like we’ve did in elementary school.
After the presentation we got to do a round of tastings. There were three levels featuring local creameries, a sausage maker, and a local bagel shop. All were amazing, but yet there was a high number of goat cheeses, of which I am personally not a big fan. But I still enjoyed trying them!
Fancy Yancy’s Cheeses – some of the funkiest combinations I’d ever seen. Some examples: Champagne Cheddar (far too creamy and rich for my taste), Bacon Cheeseburger (tastes just like you’d think, and of which we ended up getting a wedge of), and my favorite, the super-spicy, eye-watering, Chipotle and Habanero.
Main Street Farmstead – My favorite creamery there! They were located in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, just the down road from some of my cousins. All of their cheeses came from cows on his farm and lord, they were delicious. He also featured these amazing things called cheese clouds, basically cheese curds. My only experience with these scrumptious little morsels were when they were deep friend and served at a chain restaurant. But I discovered they are just as good straight out of the bag as they are fried! They’re gonna make a great snack to take to work, I just hope I can make them last more than a hour. 😉
There were some other activities happening around the Arts Center. They had live music, cheese demonstrations and pairings, and a small selection of beers and wines to pair with your samples. We had a minor celebrity in attendance as well, the 2015 Virginia State Dairy Princess, Isabelle Leonard! My most favorite non-cheese part of the festival was easily the petting zoo complete with baby goats and award winning calves.
All in all, I saw this festival as a huge success. It was the first year for it and I think the crowd that showed up overwhelmed the proportionally small group of creameries. But the only way to improve from here is to grow! I expect next year to be much bigger featuring more cheese-makers and demonstrations. Also, I think it would be great if they had more activities for children since there was a large percentage of families in attendance. We had such a good time attending this festival hosted in the lovely Moss Art Centers. I highly recommend anyone visiting the area to check it out! And now that I know visiting and touring local creameries are a thing, I’m adding that to my list of fun summer activities.