Cheese Fest 2017 -- Cleveland, OH

Last Friday (August 11th) we attended the 1st Cleveland Cheese Festival hosted by Taste CLE. We have attended two of their wine night events at Pranzo Bistro in Willoughby (event one and event two) and were excited to check out this event.

The promise? 70 varieties of cheese with unlimited sampling as well as 12 wine sampling tickets and the opportunity to try 30 different wines.

After blogging events and festivals for two years and attending many before that time, I always expect crowds and I always expect a first time event to need to work out some logistics. Based on the comments on social media, there were quite a few unhappy people. I wanted to mull things over, so I waited a week to post this while thinking about what could be done in the future. You cannot please everyone, but I think I'm a pretty reasonable festival attendee, and I have some suggestions that could help make this event more successful while keeping the attendees happy. 

Things we liked:

1.) None of us had ever been to the Lago events space and on the drive to Cleveland I was a little concerned this would turn into a logistical mess, and although it needed a few tweaks (see below), I have been to events that were much worse during the first run. The indoor/outdoor space was nice and it was the perfect time to utilize both. We have been to events with just as many people in an even smaller space which made for a miserable time. 

2.) All of the cheese, there was an excellent variety of cheese samples and we were able to try them all pretty easily.

Changes that need to be made moving forward:

1.) The bar areas need to be more spread out, there were long lines for samples of wine (although I'm grateful to vendors who filled up my glass and allowed me to use 3 tickets at once). There were many open green spaces outside that were simply not being used which would have helped cut down on the lengthy lines inside and inside the tent. According to Taste CLE, people that were supposed to man one of the wine tables backed out at the last minute, but even with one additional wine table, it would not have been nearly enough to accommodate.

Other event set-ups on the Lago Custom Events page show additional tents throughout the grassy area as well as a large four sided bar. This would have made everything so much easier. 

2.) There needs to be more furniture throughout the lawn area. For the number of people in attendance the seating was really limited and so were the tables. People want to be able to set down their glasses and their plates and not have to balance them the entire time.

3.) The last minute cancellation of the mac and cheese competition was not announced anywhere on social media and in exchange we were very confused to receive an additional wine ticket. I'm not sure why both the restaurants and a group of wine people backed out, but something needs to be mended there. At the very least announce changes via social media.

4.) People seem to be upset that the wine was not paired with specific cheeses -- that is not something that bothered me at all. It certainly could be reworked in the future, maybe even just provide a suggested pairing list along with the list of cheeses on social media.

All of the glorious cheese:

Cahills Irish Porter Cheddar

Having a great time with very full glasses of rosé bubbly -- thank you wine vendor!

I hope that Taste CLE is able to work through the logistical issues in the future in order to put on a fantastic event. Aside from waiting in line and not having a place to sit we truly did enjoy ourselves and were happy with the cheese. My brother set out to try every sample at least once and managed to do that over the course of the evening. I certainly would not be opposed to attending the same event next year as long as I knew that some changes had been made.

Ohio Wanderlust Rating:

Although the quality of the event overall was pretty good, and the people helping out were friendly, the overall chaos made me lower the rating. 


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