CACHE COUNTY – County officials here are preparing to host the first annual Cache Valley Cheese and Dairy Festival on Sept. 3 and 4 at the Cache County Events Center.
“I feel that this is one of the things that has been lacking in our community that we needed to have,” Ron Bjorkman, the director of the county facility, told members of the Cache County Council during their regular meeting on Tuesday. “It’s about time, isn’t it?”
Bjorkman explained that the upcoming festival will combine a recognition event for local dairy farmers and other activities for the general public.
Bjorkman credits former County Executive Craig Buttars with the original inspiration for the event and also the financial support of the Cache Valley Visitors’ Bureau for media expenses and advertising.
The festival will kick off on Friday, Sept. 3 with a by-invitation-only recognition dinner for members of the local dairy industry.
“That includes all of the dairy farmers who supply milk to this valley,” Bjorkman said. “We’ve invited them all to a Dutch oven dinner on Friday night at the Cache County Events Center … We’ve been able to provide two free tickets to the event per household.”
The agenda for the recognition dinner will include a performance by the Salzburger Echo, a Utah-based group that entertains with 12-foot alphorns, Swiss cowbells and harmony yodeling.
The Salzburger Echo’s showmanship and wit have made them one of America’s most sought-after Alpine bands. They regularly perform at Oktoberfest events at the Snowbird Ski Resort, in Las Vegas and in Oregon, New Mexico and Wyoming.
The public event on Saturday, Sept. 4 will include sampling booths set up by local businesses offering cheeses, milk, ice cream and other dairy products; educational farm-to-table presentations; exhibits by the Utah State University Extension service highlighting Cache Valley’s dairy industry and its economic impact; demonstrations on milking, butter churning and a sensory workshop explaining how cheese is made; and food trucks presenting dishes with dairy-related themes.
Bjorkman added that the event will also feature a “Best Cheesecake in Cache Valley” contest and local musicians performing throughout the day.
The Salzburger Echo will also be on hand Saturday to offer alphorn workshops and award prizes for guests who can make “the best noise” on those instruments.
The public portion of the Cache Valley Cheese and Dairy Festival will climax with a Pitchfork Fondue Dinner.
“That will involve steak and Dutch oven cooking, including chocolate-cherry Dutch oven dessert,” Bjorkman promised. “But fondue is a unique way of cooking steaks, so we’re hoping to attract a lot of people who will purchase tickets for that event.”
County officials are hoping to make the Cache Valley Cheese and Dairy Festival an annual occasion and members of the county council signaled that they were willing to consider financial support for the event through RAPZ tax revenues.