Is there a better place to be than with fellow cheese lovers in a town that also holds a festival for William Shakespeare and has a totally down-home, hippie vibe that loves locals and welcomes artisans?! No. There is not. I know this because this past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to, along with two co-workers, represent Tillamook at the Oregon Cheese Guild’s 9th Annual Oregon Cheese Festival!
The weekend started with a dinner featuring 4 varieties of Oregon Cheeses – and that doesn’t even include the cheese plate before the meal with about 20 different cheeses! WHOA! I had tasted some before (if you haven’t had it, you must try Portland Creamery’s Sweet Fire! It’s an unbelievably delicious Chevre with a Habanero Marionberry jam) and some I hadn’t had. After making sure to taste them all, I left with a greater appreciation of the quality of cheese making in Oregon. We’re pretty lucky.
The next day was the main event. Held right next to Rogue Creamery’s headquarters in Central Point, OR, nearly 10,000 people came to celebrate Oregon bounty under a tent that blocked not rain, but sun on this beautiful weekend! Tillamook was there with other Oregon cheeses from Rogue Creamery, Willamette Valley Cheese Company, Portland Creamery and many, MANY other artisan producers. We handed out about 60lbs of free samples of some of our more specialty cheeses: Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar, Garlic Chili Pepper Cheddar, America’s Best Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar, Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar and Sharp Cheddar cheeses. We also gave people recipes to try at home and wine pairing guides (which came in very handy – there were some great Oregon wines on hand to be tasted).
I have to throw in that if you are Ashland, you should stay at the Ashland Springs Hotel. It’s a beautiful, old hotel that is part of the Historic Hotels of America and is close to everything downtown Ashland has to offer. Try out Standing Stone Brewery for some great beer and Mix café for an AMAZING chocolate croissant, then hike Lithia Park and take a drive through Myrtle Creek and up the coast through Coos Bay, Newport, and Lincoln City to see all of the incredibly natural wonders that allow Oregon to have all of the bountiful food we do!
This event was an incredible celebration of the growing cheese industry in Oregon and Tillamook was truly thrilled to be a part of it! Make sure you remember to put this on your calendar next year so you too can enjoy some of the best cheeses in America – all under one HUGE tent!