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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 September, 2004, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Mature cheddar is biggest cheese
Judges at the British Cheese Awards. Photo from thecheeseweb.com
Judges had to choose from nearly 800 varieties of cheese
An extra mature cheddar has been crowned the best of the big cheeses at the British Cheese Awards.

The delicacy, made by the Montgomery family on their Somerset farm, beat rivals such as Cardinal Sin and The Stinking Bishop to be Supreme Champion.

The awards on Friday - featuring 780 cheeses - were the curtain-opener to the Great British Cheese Festival.

More than 10,000 food-lovers followed their noses to the two-day event at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Cheese tossing

Visitors can smell and taste the wares of 100 British and Irish cheesemongers, including 700 vegetarian varieties, 42 blue cheeses and 14 made from buffalo milk.

Other highlights include cookery masterclasses, a farmers market, wine tasting and "cheese tossing".

Cheese tossing heats are open to everyone and winning pairs will get a free glass of cider or juice.

The festival kicks off British Cheese Week, a nationwide campaign featuring special events around the country.

Organiser Julia Harbutt said: "Whatever your age, there is stacks of fun and stacks of cheese - more than 780 on display and 450 to taste or buy."

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