The Guild of Fine Food, Gillingham, England, said that the World Cheese Awards will be held in the Spanish principality of Asturias this year, taking place in Oviedo on Nov. 3. Having extended Oviedo’s tenure as World Cheese Capital following the event’s postponement as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the 33rd edition of the competition will now form part of the Asturias Paraíso Natural International Cheese Festival 2021, run by the Instituto del Queso, in partnership with the principality of Asturias and the City Council of Oviedo.

An opportunity for the global cheese community to come together after a year of unprecedented challenges for cheesemakers and the industry as a whole, the World Cheese Awards will be at the heart of a four-day festival dedicated only to cheese, staged at Oviedo’s Palacio de Exposiciones y Congresos. As the cheese world congregates in the city between Nov. 3 and Nov. 6 2021, the competition is set to be bigger and more international than ever before, following the record-breaking 3,804 entries from 42 different countries judged in Bergamo, Italy, in 2019, the Guild of Fine Food said.

Welcoming judges, entries and followers from every corner of the world, Oviedo will provide the setting for the industry to reunite, expand networks and look to the future. Building on the Asturias region’s rich cheesemaking heritage, the International Cheese Festival will present a packed program of events for both trade and consumer visitors. These include an exhibition, the 2nd Scientific Forum for Dairy Innovation, tours of the World Cheese Awards judging arena, experimental tasting sessions, the Asturex Agrifood Forum, the Origin Zone, a cheese market and the Gastro Cheese Comedy lineup, the Guild of Fine Food said.

“Following the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months, we’re delighted to be making plans for the World Cheese Awards’ return to Spain,” said John Farrand, managing director of the Guild of Fine Food, organizer of the World Cheese Awards. “The cheese world has felt the economic impact of COVID-19 in a big way, followed by a huge outpouring of public support in many countries, so this year’s competition holds greater significance than ever before. Not only will it be an opportunity for the cheese community to reconnect, share experiences and do business, but the awards themselves will provide hard-earned recognition for those cheesemakers who have gone above and beyond to keep their craft alive.

“We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such committed partners in the Instituto del Queso, the principality of Asturias and the City Council of Oviedo, as the competition faced its first ever postponement in over three decades,” he added. “We’re now looking forward to working with them to stage the biggest cheese-only event the world has ever seen, using this as catalyst for the revitalization of the region’s restaurants, food producers and tourism industry.”