This Month The Cheese Touch

The Cheese Touch

This Month

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This September brings woman-focused performances, talks on suffrage and celebrations of starry nights.

Menopause the Musical
Sept. 4–14
Ogunquit Playhouse, 10 Main St., Oqunquit
Four women at a lingerie sale, fighting over a black bra. They’re all menopausal. What could go wrong? The off-Broadway musical parody comes to the Ogunquit Playhouse this month, with a guest star who knows the production inside and out, Cindy Williams, the star of the 1970s and 80s sitcom Laverne & Shirley. (ogunquitplayhouse.org)

The University of Southern Maine is dedicating its 2019–2020 season to plays written and/or directed by women, starting with September’s Fortune, a romantic comedy. Courtesy image

A season for women
Sept. 6–9
Russell Hall, USM, Gorham
The University of Southern Maine Department of Theatre is devoting its 2019–2020 season to the work of women playwrights and directors, starting with Fortune, Deborah Zoe Laufer’s romantic comedy about a storefront psychic who has given up on love. “Our idea for this season began from a series of relevant events and conversations: the #metoo movement, the divisive political climate, and the approaching centenary of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing equal voting rights to both women and men,” says Sara Valentine, assistant professor. Other works being staged later this academic year include The Women Who Mapped the Stars, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf and Crimes of the Heart. There will be three performances of Fortune: Sept. 6–7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. Donations at the door. (207–780–5151)

Climate change author talk
Sept. 11, 7–8 p.m.
Print: A Bookstore, 273 Congress St., Portland
Acclaimed Maine writer Jane Brox in conversation with former New York Times science writer Tatiana Schlossberg about her new book Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have. Schlossberg, the daughter of Caroline Kennedy (and granddaughter of John and Jackie Kennedy), will discuss the impact of the things we use, buy, eat and wear in contributing to climate change and environmental pollution. Spoiler alert: the book is pitched as empowering, rather than a downer.

Sara Bard Field, left, Maria Kindberg and Ingeborg Kindstedt took a road trip in 1915 to gather signatures on behalf of womens’ right to vote. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Suffrage talk
Sept. 17 & 27
Anne Gass, a historian descended from one of the leaders of the suffrage movement in Maine, Florence Brooks Whitehouse, is giving two talks this month about a coast-to-coast road trip a group of women took in 1915 to deliver a petition demanding President Woodrow Wilson and Congress give women the right to vote. They gathered signatures as they drove all over America and delivered 500,000 to Wilson. Gass retraced the trip herself, in its centennial year, and uses historic slides to tell their story. The talks. which are part of the Maine Suffrage Centennial, are at 10:30 on Sept. 17 at the West Paris Library and at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Kebo Valley Golf Club, 136 Eagle Lake Road, Bar Harbor. (mainesuffragecentennial.org)

Acadia Night Sky Festival
Sept. 25–29
Did you know that Maine is one of the only states on the Eastern seaboard with great swaths of land free of light pollution? Since 2009 Acadia National Park has been the site for this festival celebrating the state’s dark skies through education, art and viewing parties. Speakers include astrophysicist Dr. Margaret J. Geller, a pioneer in mapping the universe, and Dr. Jackie Faherty, a senior scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, who will give the keynote presentation, The Milky Way as You’ve Never Seen it Before. Also, are three star gazing parties, at Sand Beach, Seal Cove and the top of Cadillac. (acadianightskyfestival.org)

Career success panel
Sept. 26, 4–6 p.m
Woodlands Club, 39 Woods Road, Falmouth
Learn about the route to success from powerful Maine women during the Secrets to Success at Different Stages in Your Career panel discussion hosted by the Institute for Family Owned Business. Panelists include Mary Allen Lindemann, Coffee By Design co-founder and community builder; Quincy Hentzel, CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce; Adele Ngoy, owner of Antoine’s Tailor Shop and founder of Women United Around the World; and Stacey Bsullak, co-owner and operator of Gathering Winds Farm and Orchard. Light hors d’oeuvres, wine and time to network. ($35, IFOB members free; fambusiness.org)

Maine Cheese Festival

Cheesemaker Amy Rowbottom uses the festival to introduce customers to her products and to gain inspiration herself. Photo by Gary Pearl, courtesy of Amy Rowbottom

Sept. 8, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Manson Park, Pittsfield
If you’re looking forward to the 4th annual Maine Cheese Festival along the Sebasticook River in Pittsfield, you and cheesemaker Amy Rowbottom of Crooked Face Creamery have something in common. “It’s inspiring for us and it is also a celebration,” Rowbottom says of the one-day event, which brings together dozens of cheesemakers as well as brewers, wineries and cideries. It’s a much needed celebration; the overall picture for dairy in Maine is gloomy, with the number of farms steadily declining. But the artisanal cheese movement is only growing. And it’s a woman’s business, predominantly, with only a handful of men represented in the 70-plus membership of the Maine Cheese Guild.

The event is inspiring for Rowbottom because she gets a chance to mingle with other cheesemakers from around the state, most of them tucked into far-flung rural areas, like Garden Side Dairy in Jonesboro. “I never get over there,” Rowbottom says. But she and Garden Side Dairy’s cheesemaker Kim Roos were side by side at last year’s festival. “She was making this spruce chevre and it was the most beautiful delicious cheese,” Rowbottom says. “She has such an interesting spin on it.”

Cold Smoked Ricotta from Crooked Face Creamery, one of the participants in the Maine Cheese Festival. Photo by Gary Pearl, courtesy of Amy Rowbottom

Rowbottom grew up on a farm in Norridgewock, started a creamery and then took a break after her daughter was born. She returned to the family farm to make cheese a little more than four years ago and uses milk from another woman-owned operation, Springdale Creamery in Waldo. Business has been very good, especially in the smoked cheese department. Her smoked gouda was a particular customer favorite. “I could never seem to make enough,” she says. So she began experimenting, including with a quick smoked fresh ricotta, and found herself with another hit on her hands. “Sales continue to double every year for the smoked ricotta,” Rowbottom says. “I have out-of-state distributors who want to buy it.” This year she outgrew her old creamery and in late August, was moving into new leased space in the Maine Grain Alliance building in Skowhegan. “It really felt like the right fit,” she says. She feels a sense of rebirth in the community, families moving back to town and the positive economic ripple effect from Maine Grain’s milling operation. “This is the first time I have made a decision and haven’t second guessed it.”

Look for Rowbottom (and samples of that smoked ricotta) at the Maine Cheese Festival, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Manson Park in Pittsfield. General admission is $20, gets you a cheese plate, a festival bag and off-site parking with shuttle. (mainecheeseguild.org)

—M.P.

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