Awards September 03 2015, 147 Comments
The American Cheese Society held its annual convention this year in Providence, Rhode Island, just a tome's toss from us here in Hubbardston, MA. As usual, the convention was held during the last week of July, a week nearly guaranteed to be about as hot and sticky as it gets, no matter where in the country it is held. This year was no exception in that regard, with temperatures well into the 90s and very humid. What was exceptional was that this year I was somewhat unwittingly conscripted to lead a tour of the "Award Winning Producers" in Central Massachusetts, a group consisting of Ruggles Hill Creamery (www.ruggleshill.com), Robinson Farm (www.robinsonfarm.org) and us.
Now, I don't know how many people in this country would pay money to be herded through the barns, pastures, milking parlors and make rooms of tiny New England farms on what proved to be the hottest day of 2015. But the A.C.S. managed to round up 40 of them. Even more surprising, the entire group not only survived the experience, but actually seemed to enjoy it. My only regret is that I failed to take any pictures (To be fair I was concerned they might end up as evidence in some sort of proceeding). What I came away with was a new admiration for the tenacity and enthusiasm of the cheese makers and purveyors that have invigorated this industry so much over the last two decades.
The highlight of the A.C.S. Convention each year is the Judging and Competition Awards, in which this year more than 260 cheese makers submitted some 1700 products for evaluation and prizes. This year Westfield Farm came away with 4 awards: First and Second place awards for the Bluebonnet and Classic Blue Log in the External Blue category, First Place for our Hickory Smoked Capri in the Smoked category and a Third Place for our Wasabi Capri.
As always, it is a great honor and delight to be recognized by experts and peers for producing some of the best cheese in the country and we are all very proud. But the fact is that a more important competition goes on every day in stores and restaurants around the country. And when a consumer judges one of our products by favoring it over all the other wonderful choices confronting him, it's more rewarding than a whole drawer full of ribbons. Believe me.
Sorry to be so derelict in maintaining this blog. We've been busy.