SA Cheese Festival Sells its Soul

The SA Cheese Festival has lost its soul. Or rather, sold it.
What started out as a showcase for local cheeses 10 years ago, quickly moved into a pleasant enough, busy platform for exhibitors outside of the cheese realm. Wine was a natural partner, and here the Cheese Festival quickly became an inclusive and fun event where cheeses and vino could be enjoyed in appropriate wine-land surrounds.
A few years down the line, olives, bread, nougat, clothes, ice-cream, biltong et al was available to the thousands thronging to the festival grounds outside Franschhoek. This was ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and is ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ fine as the angle was local.
This year, however, sees the organisers making a noise about Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky playing a major role at the Cheese Festival. This is wrong. For the following reasons:
?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬ A full-day family event in daylight hours is not the right place to promote spirits of any sort. The Cheese Festival already has a reputation for being a piss-up ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ in 2007 I remember having to help a security guard revive a drunk teenager who had passed out in near the stall I was manning in full view of festivalgoers. In 2006 I complained to the organisers about wine stands serving booze to underaged-children, without any action.
Spirits, sun, thousands of people and a lack of control has all the recipe for being a deadly cocktail.
?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬ Johnnie Walker Scotch is a regional product not. It is an international brand showcased on many other stages. The Cheese Festival should be a unique wine-lands event incorporating local products. Local tourism bodies market it as a local showcase, and it should strive to maintain this reputation.
?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¬ Scotch whisky and cheese have nothing in common. In a feeble explanation, marketing manager Mariana Rabie says whisky was introduced to the festival “because it is important for us to give visitors the opportunity of experiencing the full spectrum of products complementing cheese”.
How embarrassing to see cheese expert and dairy industry stalwart Kobus Mulder now presenting a whisky and cheese workshop. This is about as convoluted as a tomato sauce company hosting ketchup and foie gras pairings.
All this is nonsense ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ you don’t have to be a Warren Buffett to know that a huge sponsorship from Johnnie Walker saw whisky introduced to the mix and not Rabie’s transparent bit of PR puff.

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