The controversial Manchester Cheese Fest

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BOTH dairy lovers and animal rights protesters flocked to Manchester this weekend for the first ever Manchester Cheese Fest.

Hosted at Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Stretford, the two day festival included various stalls selling everything from halloumi fries to cheeseboards.

The view from the entrance

Tickets cost £5, which included entry into the building and… well nothing else really, just entry. For five pounds I was expecting to be greeted on the door with a bowl of hot mac ‘n’ cheese. This was not the case as we walked into a chilly warehouse overwhelmed by the smell of more cheeses than I can list the names of.

Halloumi fries dressed in sweet chilli sauce

£5 was the going rate for most things in this elaborate cheese market. Free samples were sparse, but the diversity of flavours was imaginative to say the least. From curry cheese to strawberry champagne flavoured cheese, they had it all.

The event was met with some controversy however, with protests over the dairy industry taking place outside the venue. Protesters did not disrupt the flow of the event as by the second day the only remnants that they left was chalk writing on the pavement spelling out the sentences, “Dairy kills calfs” and “Cheese smells of feet.”

Weaving in and out of tearaway children, it was clear to see that young families built up the majority of the crowd. The event boasted an impressive turnout with tickets for the Saturday selling out. One of the most popular stalls was The Great British Cheesecake Company, and one of their workers spoke to us:

“The turnout has been amazing, as with everywhere we’ve been with Cheese Fest. We’ve been pretty much everywhere, the south, central, the north, and even Scotland a few times.

“People love cheese because of the chemical balance in the body, it does make you happy and helps release hormones. It is something people have enjoyed for a number of years.

“The event is a fun thing to do with your friends. In a society that is so obsessed with social media and the virtual, it is lovely to have something that is physical.”

The band, Bloomsbury Music, were the showpiece of the event and after they got through the usual classics of Michael Jackson, Chic and Stevie Wonder, they moved onto some cheese appropriated numbers. “I want to eat cheddar with you” seemed to please the crowds, already high on the fumes of fresh Gorgonzola.

The next stop on the Cheese Fest tour is Wolverhampton on Saturday March 10. Tickets are available here.

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