Events to make Melton the UK’s cheese capital

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Cheese lovers and producers will converge on Melton next month for two nationally-renowned events.

A £1,000 first prize is up for grabs at the second Artisan Cheese Awards, which have attracted 400 entries from 100 cheese-makers across the UK.

And the seventh annual Artisan Cheese Fair will offer shoppers the opportunity to buy hundreds of different cheeses, as well as a range of other produce.

Organiser Matthew O’Callaghan said: “Melton will become the cheese capital of the UK next month.

“We hope to reach our target of around 70 cheese-makers this year, which will mean around 300 cheeses to sample and buy at the fair.

“We have some excellent Irish cheesemakers coming over which should be a real treat.”

The cheese awards will be held on April 20.

Mr O’Callaghan said: “Many of the smallest cheese makers will be entering simply to get the professional judgement from some of the country’s leading cheese experts, including buyers from Waitrose, Marks and Spencer, Neal’s Yard, Fine Cheese Company and others.

“With luck some may find themselves supplying some of the most iconic retailers if their cheese gets a favourable review.”

The cheese fair, the largest to be held in the UK, will take place over the weekend of April 29 and 30 at Melton Cattle Market.

Among the attractions at the event will be The Cheese Theatre, which will host talks and demonstrations.

Another area will be dedicated to cheese tastings.

Entertainment will be provided by Melstrum Ukulele Band and Morris Dancers.

As well as the cheese on sale, visitors will also be able to buy a range of produce, including pies, cider, cakes, chutneys and wine.

The event runs from 10am until 4pm on both days with everything under cover.

Tickets cost £4 in advance or £5 on the day, with children under 16 going free. Go to www.artisancheesefair.co.uk for details.