Zoey Duquette of Gardiner is handed a container of cheese as her aunt, Kayla Duquette, left, makes a payment during the Maine Cheese Festival in Pittsfield last year. The festival returns to Pittsfield this Sunday. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

PITTSFIELD — Cheese-makers and cheese-eaters will return to Manson Park this Sunday for the sixth annual Maine Cheese Festival.

This will be the third time the festival is held in Pittsfield, and the event will have even more to offer attendees, said Heather Donahue, chair of the festival committee for the Maine Cheese Guild, which hosts the event. Donahue owns Balfour Farms in Pittsfield with her husband and will have a booth with the farm’s offerings at the festival.

This year the event will have more than 60 vendors and over 20 different cheesemakers. In addition to cheese offerings, there will be cheese-related products, food trucks, ice cream, a beer and wine garden, and live music.

There will also be several cheese-focused educational talks ranging from topics like the history of cheesemaking in Maine to how to make your own ricotta. The day will wrap up with the Maine Cheese Awards ceremony at 5 p.m.

Like last year, the festival will have two sessions and attendees can purchase tickets for the morning session, which runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., or the afternoon session, which opens at 3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.showpass.com/maine-cheese-festival-2022/

Organizers last year wanted two separate sessions to limit attendance because of pandemic concerns. The choice this year was more about controlling parking at the festival and giving vendors a break in the middle of the day to reset their goods.

“It worked well last year to be able to divide the crowd into two different sections, to be able to manage the number of people,” Donahue said.

The morning session sold out earlier this week but tickets can still be purchased online for the afternoon session, Donahue said.

Before the pandemic, the festival changed locations every year, and first came to Manson Park in 2019. But after taking a year off in 2020, organizers wanted to return to a familiar place, and Manson Park has been a promising location and offers the festival plenty of room to grow, Donahue said.

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