This year’s South African Cheese Festival from 30 April to 2 May 2022 at Sandringham outside Stellenbosch was a huge success measured by the purchasing power of festivalgoers and by satisfied exhibitors.
All the tickets sold out for the festival, which was presented for the first time since 2019 due to Covid. This year’s festival was attended by 6 000 people with visitors limited to 2 000 per day. A pop-up festival was also held from 23 to 24 April 2022 at Groote Post outside Darling which was attended by more than 3 000 people.
“We believe we have created innovative solutions to present a successful festival within the restrictive Covid 19 regulations that still apply to the event industry,” says Johan Ehlers, CEO of Agri-Expo, which since 2002 organises the SA Cheese Festival.
According to Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, this year’s festival is a big sign that the economy is getting back on track. “We have to move forward, we cannot afford not to, especially for job creation. What better way than with a festival showcasing all our agricultural products, bringing people together and celebrating with music. This year’s pop-up SA Cheese Festival model is a chance that Agri-Expo took to get this important festival going again. Thank you to them for this new idea and what it means for the rural economy and spirit.”
Buffalo Mozzarella and Halloumi fly off the shelves
Festivalgoers could experience around 120 exhibitors’ creations, including a number of small cheesemakers who were invited to present their unique handmade products as part of the #SupportSmallCheeseMakers project, in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA). Visitors were also able to again taste and buy alternative niche products as part of the Cape Made: Taste the Alternatives project, in partnership with the WCDoA.
Many exhibitors’ products sold out completely, with exceptional products flying off the shelves, such as Zandam’s buffalo mozzarella, Jabulani Chigara’s dragon fruit, Klein River Cheese’s international-award-winning mature Gruberg, Rockvale and Foxenburg’s goat’s milk cheeses, Tlaquepaque’s halloumi, Karootjie’s rosemary and red wine herb salt – all the way from Calitzdorp – as well as the Western Cape Honeybush Tea Cooperative’s teas. “We were pleasantly surprised by the support,” says distiller Robyn Hartman of the brand new 9 Orphans Distillery. “At the festival, we already sold half of our very first batch of 360 bottles each of our prickly pear gin and our Eikesap oak juice gin infused with acorns”.
Ehlers says it is wonderful for Agri-Expo to be able to contribute on the path to the economic recovery of large and small businesses. “The value of the SA Cheese Festival lies precisely in the platform created for businesses, from small entrepreneurs to national companies, to interact directly with consumers and introduce their products to a wider audience, as well as the many marketing opportunities that the festival offers.”
The Standard Bank Travel & Taste experience was a huge favourite with visitors. Well-known chefs such as Tiaan Langenegger from kykNET’s Tiaan Proe, Jenny Morris and Isabella Niehaus, as well as actor Neels van Jaarsveld, entertained festivalgoers as they tasted top Chenin Blancs, Pinotage, craft beer and gin with an array of the best cheeses.
The SA Cheese Festival will take place again next year over the long weekend from Saturday 29 April to Monday 1 May 2023. Visit www.cheesefestival.co.za for more information, follow the SA Cheese Festival on Twitter @SACheeseFest, Facebook @SACheeseFestival or Instagram @sacheesefest, or contact Agri-Expo at tel 021 975 4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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