This summer’s 17th Annual Cheese Heritage Festival will be the last, at least in name.
Main Street Wellington board members voted April 25 to end the event and consider re-branding it.
An immediate change will be shortening the festival to two days instead of three, with things kicking off at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 14 and ending the following day at 9 p.m.
Organizers say they have wrestled with a shortage of vendors and hot summer temperatures have made it difficult to display cheese.
“The event isn’t cancelled, but starting in 2018 it will be something else,” said Main Street Wellington director Jenny Arntz. “The board has been wanting to eliminate or change the Cheese Fest since before I came on two years ago. In talking to cheese vendors, they’ve said it’s a busy time and they don’t have the staff to send here. Plus, having cheese out in the heat is incredibly challenging. Visitors would frequently ask us where the cheese is at the Cheese Festival.”
In 2018, tentative plans are to incorporate the event into Wellington’s bicentennial celebration and possibly move it to the weekend before the Fourth of July.
“It would be a buildup to the Chamber of Commerce’s Fourth of July celebration the following week,” said Arntz. “The following year, it could be re-branded into something totally new and different. A re-branding doesn’t mean cheese can’t still be incorporated, though.”
Arntz said Main Street’s promotions committee is looking for new members and will play a large role in determining what happens to the festival.
“There’s only about three active people on the committee and we really need a lot more help,” she said. “If anyone likes event planning or just helping out the village, please come talk to us. There have been talks about incorporating the railroad or Spirit of ‘76, but nothing has been voted on. We’re open to any and all ideas.”
The Cheese Heritage Festival pays homage to Wellington’s time as the country’s leading cheese manufacturer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1878, Wellington shipped 6.4 million pounds of cheese and 1.1 million pounds of butter across the United States and abroad.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.