Cheese Festival 2008 review
My finely honed instincts with respect to Cape Town events served me well once again. I turned down several invitations to the cheese festival on Saturday and Sunday, choosing instead to go on Monday. My reasoning was that because the weather was good on the weekend, most people would take advantage of it and attend on those days, making it too packed. This should mean that Monday would be a quieter day. That is exactly how it turned out, Monday was the best day to go. I heard that Saturday and Sunday actually got quite messy, with fights and people being sick, etc. Monday was calm and although it was busy, it wasn’t too packed. Attendance over the 4 days was approximately 20 000 people.
The festival grows every year and this year was no exception. There were even more tables and chairs in the picnic area and the shade tent was a good idea because the sun can be a bit much after a while. There are 3 extra marquees apart from the main, double size marquee. The stands keep getting bigger and better. Checkers had a massive stand with tasty snacks (not just cheese) created and demonstrated by cheff Jenny Morris (and others?). They also had a great band playing, Sterling EQ.
It definitely takes you a full day to enjoy all that the festival has to offer. We didn’t even get round to watching any of the cooking demonstrations and I’m sure we didn’t see all the stands either. Admittedly we did spend a fair amount of time just relaxing in the picnic area, basking in the glorious sunshine (we have to stock up because winter is coming) and eating tasty snacks. The festival is really child friendly with a play area containing jumping castles, etc as well as a petting zoo and lots of space to run around.
I don’t think the cheese festival is aimed at cheese connoisseurs. There are actually very few unusual and rare cheeses on offer. The festival seems to be aimed more at the general cheese consuming public. In fact, there is so much else to taste and see that even if you don’t like cheese, it’s still worth the R75 entrance fee. It is certainly much better value for money than the Taste of Cape Town festival recently held at Camps Bay High School. That was R80 to get in plus you had to pay for your tastes. Also the Harvest Festival at Mandela Rhodes Place was R80 or so for vouchers which entitled you to a few tastings from a meagre selection of stalls. The Picnic Festival works the same way, pay R60 (or more?) just to get in then you have to buy all your picnic stuff there too. These things are not value for money and when you compare them to the Cheese Festival, they seem like a downright rip off.
The Cheese Festival is popular for good reason, it’s a fantastic day out and good value for money. I continue to recommend it highly. The only downside is the terrible live music in the picnic area. I’d pay an extra few Rand to get some decent bands to play.