LOWVILLE, NY — The annual Cream Cheese Festival will return to historic downtown Lowville, in the heart of Lewis County, Saturday, Sept. 16. The free admission event — which will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — celebrates Lowville being home to the nation’s largest cream cheese plant, Kraft Heinz, which produces Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
Lowville native Beth Hall, co-host of 7News This Morning on WWNY-TV-7 and FOX 28, will again serve as emcee for this year’s event, kicking off festivities from the Main Stage on North State Street. Musical entertainment for that stage, coordinated by Jasyn Griffin, will again begin this year starting at 11 a.m. Opening ceremonies at the Main Stage will officially kick things off at 12 p.m.
Festival chairman Jeremiah S. Papineau said the committee is looking forward to the return of this great community event.
“We’re excited to be back with this amazing community event,” said Mr. Papineau. “We have amazing people — all who volunteer their time — to put this event together year after year.”
This year will mark the return of the traditional giant cheesecake created by Kraft Heinz.
“A few years ago, when we came back after taking a year off because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kraft Heinz devised a solution that was more pandemic-friendly way, providing single-serve Philadelphia Cheesecake cups,” said Mr. Papineau. “That was awesome but when we got back to having the giant cheesecake last year, the community was re-energized.”
Nick Turnbull, plant manager for the Kraft Heinz facility in Lowville, stated he was proud to announce the continuation of the giant cheesecake.
“We are excited for this staple to continue with another opportunity to share our giant cheesecake with the community, and we look forward to seeing everyone on Sept. 16,” he said in a statement.
The giant cheesecake will be unveiled at the Lowville Fire Hall across from the Main Stage during opening ceremonies.
In addition to entertainment at the Main Stage on North State Street, musical entertainment will be offered at the Veterans Stage next to American Legion Post 162 on Parkway Drive.
“We’ve got another stellar line-up for both stages, coordinated by Jasyn, offering something for everyone,” said Mr. Papineau. “It’s a great mix of local performers and others from outside our region that people will recognize.”
This year’s event will again include delicious food, great entertainment, a wide array of vendors, the traditional recipe contest, and the Children’s Discovery Park, featuring attractions by Adventures in Climbing in Veterans Memorial Park along Parkway Drive.
The Children’s Discovery Park is the only portion of the festival that charges admission, at a cost of $10 per child. Admission gives children and an accompanying adult access to attractions all day and choice of popcorn, cotton candy or snow-cone for the child. The cost of admission for the Children’s Discovery Park increased this year for the first time since it was first offered many years ago.
“We’ve held steady the cost of admission to the Children’s Discovery Park for many, many years but we realized it was finally time to increase the cost as the cost for all things have gone up over the years,” said Mr. Papineau. “It’s still a great value for all-day access to the attractions we have there, thanks to our friends at Adventures in Climbing.”
Mr. Papineau added he and the committee are looking forward to another great year of the festival.
“I cannot emphasize enough how we have an amazing committee, all who volunteer countless hours of their time to make this festival happen,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have these caring individuals continue this tradition of offering a family-friendly event here in Lewis County.”
Like last year, this year’s event will not include the wacky contests it has held in the past. Originally, this was due to additional safety precautions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that continued last year due to a lack of a games coordinator. The festival still does not have a games coordinator so this year’s event will again not include contests.
“While it again saddens us to not be able to offer this attraction at the festival, as we said last year, it’s the unfortunate reality that comes with this being an entirely volunteer-run festival,” said Mr. Papineau. “We hope to bring back this piece of the event in the future.”
Despite this, Mr. Papineau said he believes people will continue to turn out for the vendors, entertainment, food, the Children’s Discovery Park and, of course, cheesecake.
RECIPE CONTEST DETAILS
One of the most popular events at the festival is its annual recipe contest.
Those wishing to participate may pick up six free packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese at the Lowville Kraft Heinz facility, 7388 Utica Blvd., Wednesday, Sept. 13, and Thursday, Sept. 14, from 12 to 4 p.m. both days. Those picking up cream cheese from the local Kraft Heinz facility must furnish a copy of their recipe upon pick-up.
Entries will be judged based on presentation, creativity and taste. Points in the judging are weighted – the most points are awarded for the taste component, the next highest points are awarded in creativity, and the fewest points are awarded for presentation.
Entries must be delivered to the recipe contest booth located inside the Lowville Fire Hall between 8 and 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16. Parking is available in the Lowville Free Library lot during drop-off hours, with access to the fire hall available via the rear entry doorway on Parkway Drive.
Displays are limited to a 2 ft. by 2 ft. area on the table and only the registration number should be visible on an entry. Electrical outlets will be available.
In addition, all entries must be prepared with Philadelphia Cream Cheese and any recipe submitted becomes the property of Kraft Heinz.
Entries must be picked up by 2 p.m. the day of the contest. Kraft Heinz is not responsible for any dish not picked up that day.
This year’s contest will have both dessert and non-dessert categories with cash prizes awarded.
Those wishing to register for the recipe contest must send an email in advance to the Cream Cheese Festival Committee to email@example.com or call 315-748-6361.
PARKING AND ROAD CLOSURE DETAILS
New this year, those attending the festival will see a change to the parking available for the event. Historically, parking has been made available at both Tops Plaza on the south side of the village and the Lewis County Fairgrounds on the north stride of the village. Attendees could park and then take advantage of the shuttle service offered by Birnie Bus and Lewis County Public Transportation. This year, however, due to a paving project at Tops Plaza, parking will not be available in that lot. Instead, the Lewis County Agricultural Society, which owns the Lewis County Fairgrounds, will make more parking available for the public.
“We’re very grateful to our friends at the Lewis County Agricultural Society,” said Mr. Papineau. “When they learned of our situation, they stepped up to help, just as they do every year in many other aspects with our festival. They really epitomize the word community.”
Parking remains free but donations to the Lewis County Agricultural Society will be appreciated. The cost to ride the shuttle is $1 each way, with exact change requested.
Motorists should take note Parkway Drive and North State Street, from the main intersection at Dayan Street and Shady Avenue to Bostwick Street, will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, to accommodate the festival. During that time, motorists will be directed to a detour route.
BACKGROUND & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The Cream Cheese Festival has attracted much attention since its inception in 2005. The popular travel website TripAdvisor listed the Cream Cheese Festival as one of the top 10 wackiest summer festivals in 2011 and 2012. It has also received a similar designation from The Weather Channel. The event has brought much attention to Lewis County and brought many people to the region, helping the local economy if even one day a year.
In 2013, Lowville was recognized as home of the World’s Largest Cheesecake by Guinness World Records. That year, the festival welcomed a representative from Guinness World Records who certified the cheesecake made by the plant on Utica Boulevard was indeed the world’s largest. The massive creation weighed in at 6,900 pounds — more than 2,000 pounds heavier than the prior mark of 4,703 set in 2009 by a Kraft Foods plant in the country of Mexico.
Over the years, the festival has expanded from downtown North State Street to Parkway Drive and over to American Legion Post 162, which has taken on a larger role in working with the festival each year. In fact, in addition to the Main Stage on North State Street during the festival, the American Legion hosts its own entertainment that day on the Veterans Stage, also coordinated by Jasyn Griffin.
Each year, through the coordination of American Legion Post 162 Commander C. Lee Hinkleman, soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division volunteer in great numbers.
“We are extremely grateful each year for their volunteering and look forward to having them back again this year,” said Mr. Papineau. “Their help demonstrates their commitment to the community they live in and we’re very happy to have them here.”
Mr. Papineau added volunteers are always needed for this event and those interested should reach out via email to the Cream Cheese Festival Committee.
Platinum sponsors this year include Kraft Heinz, Marks Farms, Rome Teachers Federal Credit Union, WWNY 7News/Fox28/MeTV, the Lewis County Agricultural Society, the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce, the Lowville Business Association and the Village of Lowville.
For more information about the Cream Cheese Festival or if you would like to volunteer at the event, visit www.creamcheesefestival.com or contact committee chairman Jeremiah S. Papineau via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 315-748-6361 and leave a message.