The SA Cheese Festival has moved to a new location this year and I think it’s a good move as it’s been at Bien Donné for nine years now. Many people haven’t been going to the festival because it’s the same every year, so having it at a new venue gives people an excuse to go again.
But if you think you’re getting the same festival as last year but in a new venue, you’re wrong. Not only is Sandringham closer to Cape Town and easier to find, it is also a better laid out venue. At Bien Donné there were sections which were very separate to the main section and even a section that half the people didn’t even know existed. Whereas Sandringham is laid out as a big U. All the tables and chairs, and the band are in the middle so all marquees lead out onto the central area. It creates a much more cohesive feel. The far end is hemmed in by a small dam. There is a main cheese tent, then a tent with others stuff like olives, wine, biltong, etc. Those take up the one side, and the other is taken up by food stands. The entrance is at the top end.
There were two big complaints I had about the last couple of cheese festivals and both have been addressed. The one was that it was too crowded. This new venue has 30% more space and stacks more tables and chairs (in addition to picnic space on the grass) for those wanting to sit outside. The other problem was that there were very few new cheeses and small cheeseries. This year ABSA has sponsored small producers so there is a bunch of small, interesting producers from all around the country. Look for the stands with an ABSA logo to identify these producers.
The things that made the cheese festival good fun are still there, just improved (except for the music, that’s still pretty horrible). The toilets are amazing, the most impressive portaloos ever. They even had motion activated taps and towel dispensers!
If you haven’t been for a while, seriously, this is your chance to go again. If you’ve been going every year, you’re going to love the new refreshed festival.
I’m looking forward to next year already.
Get all the details you need at the Cheese Festival website.