Great Canadian Cheese Festival


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

Wine and Cheese...

When people think of Prince Edward County, one of the things that come to minds is the great vineyards. So it’s not too much of a stretch to think of Prince Edward County as Wine and Cheese. That’s what we thought when we heard that The Great Canadian Cheese Festival was going to take place in Picton.

On a warm sunny Sunday morning, we packed up the car and headed for Prince Edward County. The trip along the Loyalist Parkway to Picton was as wonderful as I remembered it. Event was being held at the Crystal Palace which is located on the Picton Fair Grounds. The Crystal Palace is an imposing building and made even more with the tents that surrounded it for this event. As we walked to the festival entrance our first encounter was with a Brama Bull! Fortunately the bull was inside a strong pen and could not interfere with our journey!

Cheese Heaven!

We passed through the registration entrance, received our The Great Canadian Cheese Festival cooler bags, a bag of literature and two logoed wine glasses each containing several sampling tickets. We joined other visitors and made our way to the marquee tents that contained numerous festival vendors. At this point I think that Judi and I felt that we had entered “Cheese Heaven”! Our first cheese sampling was from Upper Canada Village. We were told that the cheese was made right at the Village. It was delicious. It was fitting that Upper Canada Village was able to participate in this event since they were promoting this years 50th Anniversary. It was interesting why Canadian cheese was orange in colour over the last 100 years and the history of cheese making. We moved from booth to booth looking and listening and quite often sampling. It’s hard to believe that there are so many tastes in cheese. At one point we stopped at wonderful winery and purchased a sample of wine. I choose a full body red wine while Judi chose a nice dry white Riesling. With wine in hand we continued to explore all of the different stations along the way, again, sampling whenever the opportunity arose. When we reached the last tent, Judi disappeared. Looking hard, I finally found her munching on a raspberry shortbread cookie. The smile on her face said it all! To add to our sugar rush, Judi edged her way into a bakery where she purchased two pieces of apple strudel. Oh my!

The Crystal Palace...

Thus fortified, we decided to tackle the Crystal Palace building itself. This is a large historic glass building with extremely high wooden beamed ceilings. There was a line up waiting to enter the building. Inside, the building people milled around each cheese, wine/beer station. As with the tents, we sampled our way around the building. Judi had a sampling of beer and I sipped on another sampling of wine. We finally reached a point where we had to make a decision. We needed to fulfill a promise that we had made to our dog. Dusty. We had made the promise, because we were not taking us with us on this trip! Our promise was some cheese … Dusty is a true “Cheese Con” … “Coinsurer” that is. We made our purchase and worked our way out of the Crystal Palace. On our way out, we were able to meet the The Great Canadian Cheese Festival's founder, Georgs Kolesnikovs. He told us that the idea for this festival came from his visits to wine festivals. His idea was to present “a showcase of cheese from all across Canada, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is an event for cheese lovers and enthusiasts. Talk, taste, buy and learn about one of the most diverse dairy foods available in Canada.” Once we had congratulated him on this inaugural festival, we were on our way back to Cobourg, to an anxiously awaiting Cheese Coinsurer”!