Cheese Festival Ends in Disaster After Underestimating People's Love for Cheese
As the multipledisasters surrounding Fyre Festival earlier this year demonstrated to the world, running a satisfactory event can be pretty hard, especially when you don't deliver on what you promise. That was the trouble that Great Britain's boldly named Cheese Fest UK ran into this past weekend. By several accounts from attendees, and as festival organizers confirmed in an apology, things turned stinky after it very, very quickly ran out of cheese.
Now cue the outrage in 3, 2, 1...
Cheese Fest UK, which bills itself as the "biggest touring cheese festival" in the United Kingdom, descended upon Brighton, on the south coast of England, on August 12, much to the anticipation of local cheese fanatics. The intention was to transform the coastal resort at Victoria Gardens into a decadent bacchanal of gooey, melty brie, halloumi, and every other kind of cheese you can think of, with flowing wine and other snacks to pair, all for £6 as the price of entry. Because the local Britons of Brighton are human and love cheese as much as the rest of us, they logically went apeshit with anticipation on social media ahead of time. Once the event got moving, however, more and more complaints of punishingly long queues and the festivals lack of the promised cheese began to overtake Twitter.
Many attendees who bought tickets to the festival expressed their disappointment at the festival's offerings: "I booked it because I thought it'd be a fun event celebrating cheese, which I love," Kate Harrison, an author who attended the festival, said via direct message on Tuesday. "I expected cheese to buy and some tasters, plus maybe local stands."
"Instead, imagine hundreds of frustrated cheese fans hemmed into a tiny space, with insane queues for everything, and a DJ who didn't even play cheesy music," she said. "The food looked mixed -- £6+ for a toastie after you've already paid £6 to get in seemed steep... It felt like a massive wasted opportunity."
She wasn't alone. Aisling Brock, a local food blogger covering the event, expressed her dismay in a write-up titled "A Very Stinky Cheesefest." She wrote: "This post was supposed to be really fun with lots of droolworthy pictures of cheese, but the truth is that the event was so bad that I actually only snapped a pic of my raclette to prove that I actually had some cheese after over an hour of waiting!"
The conversation around the event quickly stacked up with snarky commentary, photos of long lines, depressingly few images of actual served cheese, and requests for refunds. Cheese Fest UK was also criticized for a slow response to the backlash, as well as apparently deleting negative comments on its Facebook page, which Harrison also confirmed: "The organisers' attitude on social media was rubbish, they deleted comments from the Facebook page and just gave the same stock answers about it being a celebration of 'contemporary cheese.'"
Eventually, Cheese Fest UK was forced to apologize. The following statement was sent to Thrillist and published on the festival's website on its Brighton event page:
"We would like to take the time to apologise for the queues on the Saturday of the event, which were as a result of our dedication to selling hot and fresh food to order. There were over 20 traders on site for the 1000 attendees on site at any time to enjoy."
Nonetheless the organizers "stand behind the event as being marketed as a contemporary festival of modern cheese and street food such as mac and cheese waffles, halloumi fries, raclette and more." They also thanked the vendors and traders who worked to bring their cheese to the event.
Meanwhile, the festival's Twitter account has spent the last few days sending conciliatory at-replies to users dog piling on them and asking for refunds. It's an ugly, cheese-pun-filled scene, but hopefully we've all learned a lesson for the next cheese festival: anticipate a demand for cheese, or face the consequesos.