The return of the Cheese Festival brought an estimated 3,000 people to Lake Street in Monroe on Saturday.
“The team really knocked it out of the park,” said Lyn Cear, head of the Cheese Festival Committee. “We did what we set out to do.”
A full day of live music, food vendors, and local shops entertained the crowd. Children had fun in the sun with assorted amusements, such as inflatable slides, corn hole, face painting and hair braiding.
“It’s nice to see people,” said Jeanette Evelyn, an area resident for 21 years. “I ran into people I haven’t seen in five or six years — people my daughter played soccer with or my son played soccer with.”
Monroe’s Beck’s Hardware and The Cheese Guy, based in East Rutherford, NJ, gave out free cheese samples, and mac n’ cheese options were available for purchase at different food stands. There was also a cheesecake contest where about 60 volunteer judges voted Sharyn Sherman of The Cake Lady as winner.
As in years past, some festival-goers were not satisfied with the amount of cheese available.
“I think ‘more cheese’ continues to be the theme on social media,” Cear said. She explained that her team reached out to 20 cheesemakers and 17 local farms and orchards, but many were not able to attend the festival due to staffing shortages.
“We’re just going to have to hit that pavement earlier next year,” Cear said. The committee, which also included Nicole Finley, Lauren Joosten, Staci McCleary, Manal Flournoy, Peter Dawson, Rosemary Knapp, and Sal Scancarello, put the festival together in only seven weeks after Monroe Mayor Neil Dwyer gave them the green light.
Other than cheese, there was plenty of food from other vendors for lunch and dinner, including Empanada O’ Nada, 876 Jerk, and Tequila Grille. According to Cear, many of the vendors either sold out or had to bring in more food before the festival was over.
Holly Dean-Oser, president of the Monroe Historical Society, was pleased with the turnout.
“It’s been really exciting,” she said, noting that several people visited the society’s booth and asked questions about their homes in the area. “People are showing a great interest. I feel that our community needs that. Everybody needs to know where they came from to know where they’re going.”
Residents enthused about the festival.
“I didn’t expect the festival to be so big,” said Jenny Ng, a first-time Cheese Fest attendee who has lived in the area for three years. “This is amazing. I love how it brings out the community — everyone is so nice here and we’re just having a good time seeing what’s out here.”