Christmas on the Farm is returning to Little Qualicum Cheeseworks for its 15th year, and this year it will take on an even cheesier twist.
Resident Swiss cheesemaker Levi Friess will be on-site Dec. 14, handing out samples of house-made raclette cheese hot off the melting wheel.
The strong cheese makes a good winter warmer as it’s made to be melted and served on hearty and savoury food items such as potatoes and bread.
“Raclette is quite a strong cheese. Like fresh milk, a little acidic. After melting, [it] gets a grilled cheese flavour,” said Friess.
Friess studied cheesemaking for three years in his home country of Switzerland, and has been working at Little Qualicum for slightly more than a year. He’ll be able to answer questions about how the cheese he’s handing out is made – because he’s been the one making it.
Friess will stay in Canada for at least another six months. In the time he’s spent here, his passion for the squeaky stuff hasn’t wavered.
“What I really love in cheese, and what also inspired me a lot is that you start with milk, and you can have so many different types of cheese that’s unbelievable. It also happens in a very short time,” said Friess.
“So cheesemaking – in two to three hours, you change the whole thing, like going from a soft cheese to a very hard cheese. So that’s got me fascinated a lot.”
In addition to the cheesy goodness, the event promises live music, carol-wagon rides, story-telling, kids’ crafts, farm animals, bonfire and marshmallows and a poutine truck, as well as free hot chocolate and popcorn.
In past years the event has offered free admission, but Little Qualicum is now asking for $5 per person (children under the age of two get in free) in order to fund all the activities. Organizer Ray Haynes says they expect a crowd of 1,500 people throughout the day.
Musical talent on offer (in order of appearance) includes Dave Klinger on piano, Ocean Winds featuring Wayne Finucan, Don McConnell, Geoff Williams and Ray Haynes) Oceanside Community Band directed by Dr. Paul Rathke, “Caveman Bill” and Maureen O’Hearn and the Colin Campbell family vocal band.
There will also be story-telling by Rachel Muller and Rodney Anderson, with mini-horse wagons driven by Maureen Ward and Rhonda Schroeder featuring their horses Sniper and Jackson.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks is located at Morningstar Farm on 403 Lowry’s Rd. in Parksville.