COUNTY NEWS: Angry customers kick up stink at cheese festival

Stock image of cheese. Picture: Stephen Lawrence
Stock image of cheese. Picture: Stephen Lawrence

A cheese festival dubbed ‘an absolute joke’ by one angry customer has responded by saying the event was scuppered by bad weather conditions.

Thousands of people attended The Big Cheese Festival in Hove Lawns on Saturday, expecting a feast for the eyes and ears.

The website said it would host ‘a plethora of the finest international cheesemakers and mongers showcasing their amazing cheeses’, and ‘range of bars serving craft beers, liquor and wine, plus live comedy, local bands & cheesy DJ’s performing a selection of jazz, funk & R n Brie’.

But the reality was quite different according to many customers, who complained on social media that many of the stalls advertised were not there and wanted a refund for their tickets.

Charlotte Bliss, from South Street, Eastbourne, emailed The Big Cheese Festival organisers, and said: “Shocking experience today at the cheese festival with no cheese.

“We counted no more than two cheese stalls, Gouda and Sussex cheese. The cooked cheese items also amounted to no more than three stalls with huge queues.

“I am appalled that this was allowed to be called a cheese festival. Please contact me if you require any further information.

“I also purchased another ticket at the gate. I will never attend another event like this in Brighton and those who planned this should be ashamed.”

The organisers responded on Facebook with the following statement: “Firstly, we would like to thank the thousands who attended The Big Cheese Festival today and who conga’ed their way around the Main Stage Tent, creating that incredible Festival Atmosphere.

“We would like to express our sympathy toward some of our amazing cheese and cheesey Street Food Traders who were traveling to the city from across the country, and who due to adverse weather conditions and impassable roads, were unfortunately forced to abort their journeys today.

“Sadly due to this, a few compromises had to be made and we are disappointed that a larger variety of cheese wasn’t available.

“Despite this, our cheese traders who were able to attend showed amazing dedication throughout the event, and did not fail to deliver, with food available right to the end.

“We would like to offer everyone who purchased a ticket 50% discount to next years event.

“All feedback will be taken on board, please email info@thebigcheesefestival.co.uk”

Adam Quay-Ross also emailed the company to say they had failed to live up to expectations. He said: “What we did get was a muddy lawn, with three cheese traders, two marquees with overpriced generic festival drinks, two generic festival fish and chip/burger vans. Three cheese inspired food offerings (the Haloumi fries were a 30-minute wait) and a lot of very angry visitors.

“Your festival failed in epic proportions and you failed to deliver on the above advertised points. What you provided was a Cheese Festival... without the cheese.

“I understand that the inclement weather could have been a problem but not to the extent of having a basically empty festival site. If it was so bad your suppliers and “plethora of vendors” could not attend then you should have cancelled or postponed. By going ahead with this absolute joke of a Cheese Festival you have angered the masses.

“I expect my ticket costs to be refunded in full.”

Lucy Vella, who went to the event, was not impressed with their offer of a 50 per cent discount. An an email to the company shared with the paper, she said: “After attending your shambles of an event today at the cost of £22 (+£1 booking fee) I respectfully ask that you refund my money as this was in no way a cheese festival as advertised.

“Your event (I use that word loosely) should have been cancelled.

“I’ve seen your offer on Facebook re 50% off next years ticket however I’d rather give up cheese for a year than attend your next attempt of a cheese festival.

“I will not let this be - I will continue to pursue my refund. You’re lucky I’m not including my travel, time and parking.”

Following the social media backlash, The Big Cheese Festival organisers posted on their Facebook page: “After reading through some of the comments on social media, we are just as disappointed as yourselves that the event was disrupted by the adverse weather conditions.

“We have carried out many successful events previously and we have never been in this situation before. We take great pride in what we do and we take the opinions of our customers very seriously.

“Inline with our company policy, you have 7 days to submit your complaint/feedback to: info@thebigcheesefestival.co.uk. Each complaint will be individually assessed and you will receive a full response within 14 days. All emails must be received by 15:00 on the 11th March 2018.

“Please note, we will not be responding to any further comments on social media, the contact details provided above will be the only way to discuss this further. This is to ensure every person is responded to in full.

“All feedback will be taken into account and auctioned accordingly.”