Cheese lovers in the Mohawk Valley are in for a real treat this month! There are not one but TWO great cheesy events to look forward to—all thanks to a growing interest in local and artisanal cheeses and producers. In fact, both of these events are centered on meeting the cheese makers themselves.
Saturday, July 13th marks the fifth year of the Little Falls Cheese Festival. Started just a handful of years ago by a small group of passionate volunteers, the Cheese Fest now draws nearly 5,000 visitors to sample and buy over 200 different types of cheeses at the largest festival of its type in New York State.
On festival day, Main Street in Little Falls is converted—from one end to the other—to a veritable smorgasbord of cheeses, craft beverages, breads, and specialty foods from every corner of New York State. Award-winning cheeses from Lively Run Dairy in the Finger Lakes to the famous Original Herkimer Cheese in Ilion, to squeaky cheese curds from Grassy Cow in Remsen and delectable mold-ripened goat cheeses from Cochran Farm in St. Johnsville, there’s literally something for everyone and a cheese for every palate.
Plan to spend the day in picturesque Little Falls! Take in the free play entitled, “Where’s the Cheesemonger?” at 11am or 1:30pm. There’s ample food to be found on the street while you stroll and listen to the dozens of musicians or step into one of Little Falls’ many family-owned eateries for some well-earned time off your feet. The vast majority of these restaurants will have cheese-centered features for the day, just in case you can’t get your fill!
If shopping is your thing, you can continue to shop to your heart’s delight at the Little Falls Antique Mall, Fall Hill Bead & Gem, Rochette and the shops of the 410 Collective, and my personal favorite, Paca Gardens. There’s also a great deal of history to be found at the Little Falls Historical Society, where you can learn all about how this little marvel of a city rocked and forever changed the cheese world in the 1800s. You can also visit local landmarks like Erie Canal Lock 17. Built over 100 years ago, it is amongst the highest in the world. Adventurers can rock-climb on Moss Island and visit its fascinating geological “pothole” formations.
Clearly, you should go to the Little Falls Cheese Festival on July 13th.
But what is that OTHER cheesy item I mentioned?
A group of nine cheesemakers throughout Central New York has joined forces to create a cheese trail—the CNY Cheese Trail! The idea for this trail came out of a series of exploratory meetings hosted by the Herkimer County IDA, and has grown to also include Oneida, Otsego, and Madison counties. Cheese lovers will be able to visit all sorts of cheese making businesses year-round, from goat farms and cow dairies to cheese factories, and even see how cheeses are made.
Trail participants hope to attract both local residents and tourists from outside the area. Visitors can pick up an official Cheese Trail Blazer card, which they can fill with stamps from each location and receive a free gift after visiting all nine participating manufacturers. While most of the trail will be open year-round, each location has its own unique hours of operation, so be sure to check the website before venturing out: www.cnycheesetrail.com.
The CNY Cheese Trail officially opens in July, with special events planned for the fall and years to come. And considering there is also a “Heart of New York Craft Beverage Trail,” we hope to see fun event pairings, too. The possibilities are truly endless!
CNY Cheese Trail Participants for 2019:
Adirondack Cheese Company, Barneveld
Cooperstown Cheese Company, Milford
Grassy Cow Dairy, Remsen
Jewett’s Cheese House, Earlville
Jones Family Farm, Herkimer
Kriemhild Dairy Farm, Hamilton
Original Herkimer Cheese, Ilion
Poplar Hedge Farm, West Winfield
Stoltzfus Family Dairy, Vernon Center