Biddy Fraser-Davis at work cutting the curd of her Cwmglyn Farmhouse Cheese. PHOTO/FILE

BECKIE WILSON

beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

The organisers of the Great Eketahuna Cheese Festival may have never met, but they are set to plan a cheese extravaganza that will rally small cheesemakers, chefs and cheese lovers alike from across the country.

Eketahuna’s Cwmglyn (said coom-glin) Farmhouse Cheese owner Biddy Fraser-Davis and cheesemonger Calum Hodgson are planning the event with the hopes that small cheesemakers can finally get together.

While planning of the finer details is still on-going, the date has been set for May 14 next year – which coincides with Mrs Fraser-Davies birthday.

The Eketahuna Community Hall will be packed with stalls of artisan cheesemakers selling products, as well as forums and seminars, including a cheese tasting session followed by a dinner.

Mrs Fraser-Davis said they were aiming to make the event an affordable and enjoyable time out for the public.

“What is often forgotten now, is that the Eketahuna district has a very long and impressive history of cheesemaking from its earliest settled days, and it still remains an excellent summer dairy hub to this day.

“We just want to make sure folk know there is a resurgence of small production artisan cheesemaking in the Eketahuna district, and what better way to do this than celebrate with a cheese festival.”

Co-organiser of the cheese festival Calum Hodgson from Auckland is hoping to bring together cheese makers from across the country. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Mrs Fraser-Davis organised the first Eketahuna cheese festival in October 2015 as part of New Zealand Cheese month.

She had organised smaller events over the past two years but hoped next year’s event would attract seasonal cheesemakers whose dairy herds dried off would have the time to come, she said.

“Often small production cheesemakers work alone, and having the opportunity to get together and discuss their trade with each other, and how they’ve dealt with all the MPI regulations, is of really huge benefit.”

Local cheesemakers coming to the festival include Wild Bush cheese and C’est Cheese, while Evansdale cheese will come up from Otago and Glenbrook Cheese from Auckland.

Co-organiser Calum Hodgson from Auckland has never been to Eketahuna nor met Mrs Fraser-Davis in person after a three-year friendship, but has high hopes for the rural festival.

Already about 20 businesses have signed up so far, with interest still coming in.

The event was only made public three weeks ago, but they had already received a huge amount of interest, he said.