Three-day festival set at McKelvey Vineyards in Franklin County

A country festival with skilled Missouri artisan cheesemakers as the main attraction for the first Missouri Artisan Cheese Festival, May 20-May 22 at McKelvey Vineyards at 8901 Highway YY near New Haven in Franklin County.

The festival will include wine, spirits, local fare, music, historic tours, and the open spring air of Missouri wine country. The event runs from 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 21, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 22.

Photo courtesy McKelvey Vineyards

McKelvey Vineyards and cheesemaker Tom Blathford from M&T Farms partnered to plan the event as a way to highlight the quality flavors and varieties of Missouri-made, handcrafted cheeses, says Lindsay Hayes, event manager at McKelvey Vineyards. A variety of tickets including admission/tasting tickets, VIP(Friday event plus tasting ticket), and Mothers Day picnic basket can be purchased here.

“Friday will be a special night,” Lindsay says. “Guests will enjoy a wonderful meal with the backdrop of the property’s 1871 stone farmhouse and romantic country views.” The experience is intended to remind guests of a time when skilled makers and artisans were the cultural norm.

Photo courtesy M&T Farms/Cool Cow Cheese

A Cheese Cave to Table Dinner on Friday evening will kick off the weekend with small plates that each feature a cheese from a participating creamery. Chef Eddie Neill, owner of award-winning Cafe Provencal in Kirkwood, will curate the evening’s meal, pairing the presentations with wines available at McKelvey Vineyards. The emcee for the evening is Andy DeCou, cheese monger and all around deli specialist for festival sponsor Schnucks Market.

“It will be a night to mingle with the local cheesemakers, chefs, farmers, bakers, distillers, and vineyard owners,” Lindsay adds.

Saturday morning and into the evening, the cheesemakers will sample and sell their cheese, pairing with McKelvey Vineyards private label wine and other premium wines sold at the winery. Festival participants will be able to taste and experience more than one hundred varieties of cheese. Lindsay says guests may purchase cheese on site during the open air market from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, to take home in complimentary cooler bags included with the festival ticket.

Creameries participating from across Missouri are M & T Farms (Cool Cow Cheese), Baetje Farms, Hemme Brothers Creamery, Homestead Creamery, Edgewood Creamery, Green Dirt Farm, Terrell Creek Farm, Spring Creek Farm, and Grison Dairy & Creamery.

Festival sponsor Naturally Meramec has assisted in procuring local products from small farms and culinary artists for Friday night’s dinner.

From 5-9 p.m. Saturday, local distilleries and breweries will be on hand for an evening Cheese and Spirits Walk, giving guests the chance to taste local liquors and cheese pairings. Guests will also be entertained with live bluegrass music throughout the day, featuring the band The Wayward Mountaineers and One Way Traffic, among other musicians.

Unique festival events include a Grazing Tent (a massive all-you-can-eat charcuterie featuring Missouri cheese), walkthroughs of the historic stone farmhouse Steeple View Manor, walking trails, yard games, and more.

Lindsay says Sunday will be “a laid back day” and is the only day that a ticket is not necessary for entry. Made to order grilled cheese with your choice of Missouri cheese will be available along with tickets to enjoy grazing boards. Wildhorse Creek Band will provide live music.

The event setting has more than 60 acres of property to explore, complete with the walking trails and space to set up one’s own picnic area. Be sure to check for festival updates on the Missouri Artisan Cheese Festival Facebook page and at the McKelvey VIneyards website.