Now with a new name, the Big Cheese festival in Armstrong is back for its 10th year, with events on tap April 14 and 15, 2023. (Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce photo)

Now with a new name, the Big Cheese festival in Armstrong is back for its 10th year, with events on tap April 14 and 15, 2023. (Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce photo)

New name, same cheesy goodness at North Okanagan festival

The Big Cheese, formerly known as Cheese… It’s A Natural, will mark its 10th year April 14 and 15

A popular North Okanagan festival is celebrating 10 years with a new name — and it’s pretty cheesy.

Armstrong and Spallumcheen will once again be home to everything cheese, locally produced and processed food and more as they host The Big Cheese — a new name in celebration of the festival formerly known as Cheese… It’s A Natural.

It might have a new name, but the annual event established in 2013 to celebrate the City of Armstrong’s centennial will still be accessible and filled with something for everyone.

The festival runs Friday, April 14, and Saturday, April 15.

The Food and Buyer Expo will be held on the Friday beginning at 4:30 p.m. This is an industry-only event that brings together local food growers, processors and buyers. Vendors will have the chance to showcase their products and meet the region’s buyers, including restaurants, hotels and retailers who are interested in increasing the local products they use, stock and sell.

For local producers and processors, the event provides an opportunity to sell to two audiences over two days, to local buyers during the mixer event, and to the public on Saturday during the public event.

For regional buyers, the event is an opportunity to connect with local food vendors. Buyers registered by April 6 will receive a local food-tasting package and complimentary beverage at Friday’s event. Pre-registration is necessary, and buyers can contact the Armstrong Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce to sign up.

The mixer is a partnership with Design Farm In, Mandi Lunan Food Business Coach and the Chamber of Commerce.

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Starting at 9 a.m. on April 15 in the Hassen Arena, cheesemakers and artisan food and beverage producers will provide samples and information. Attendees will pick up an event pass which will allow one complimentary tasting from each exhibitor until 3 p.m. Products will also be available for purchase.

The daytime event is $2 and donations of a non-perishable item for the Feed the Valley program in support of the Armstrong Food Bank will be accepted.

During the event, Canadian cheese ambassador David Beaudoin will host two cheese seminars at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., which must be registered for.

Also on tap are the amateur cheese ball and grilled cheese competitions. Amateur cheese ball entries will be accepted from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. with judging at 11 a.m. — which is when the amateur grilled cheese competition begins.

Tickets are $70 and must be purchased by April 11 through the Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are not available at the door and people must be over 19 to attend the event at St. Joseph’s Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the first course will be served at 6:30 p.m. followed by the seated courses at 7 p.m.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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