15th annual Oregon Cheese Festival draws thousands

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. —  Thousands made their way to Central Point this weekend for southern Oregon’s annual celebration of cheese.

“If there’s one thing Oregon does, it makes great cheese,” said Jonny Steiger, owner of “By George Farm” in the Applegate Valley.

For 15 years, cheese lovers from across Oregon and the world have all gathered in one spot, the Oregon Cheese Festival.

It’s the largest cheese festival in the Pacific Northwest featuring dozens of cheese makers and their handcrafted, artisan cheeses.

Not to mention, beer, wine, chocolate, and much more.

“It’s a love affair with the cheese really,” said Steiger.

From swiss to cheddar to brie, Steiger says making cheese can take months of meticulous care. But coming to a festival like this makes it all worthwhile.

“Hearing everyone say how delicious everything is and how much fun this is really energizes the soul to keep doing this… to keep producing this product for everyone,” he said.

For Rod Volbeda, owner of “Willamette Valley Cheese,” making cheese is more than just a job.

“Cheesemaking is an art. You can never make the same cheese as anybody else,” he said.

Volbeda says he looks forward to the festival every year, so he can meet other cheese makers and cheese lovers who share his passion.

“We only get together about three times every year and it’s really nice to talk to people about what’s new, what are you doing different, what cheeses you’re coming out with,” he said.

And for the thousands who showed up today… just like cheese, the festival seems to only get better with age.

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