There's a long history of cheesemaking in the Petaluma area, so its fitting that the annual homage to fromage, California's Artisan Cheese Festival, happens to be held right here in town.

The seventh annual festival takes place March 22-24 at the Sheraton Petaluma Hotel and is the United States' premier artisan cheese event featuring many cheesemaking classes, panel discussions, book signings, tours of local farms, tastings and the popular cheese marketplace event.

Highlights of the festival this year include the Grande Cheese Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. The walk-around feast showcases top Bay Area chefs using artisan cheeses in a variety of dishes from sweet to savory. More than 50 restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries will be participating in the competition. Admission is $75 per person and includes samples of cheese-inspired dishes, beer and wine.

The Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace is held from noon to 4 p.m. Those attending will have the opportunity to meet more than 70 artisan producers and sample cheese, wine beer and other specialty foods. Tickets are $45 per person and includes tote bag, wine glass, access to chef demonstrations and the samples.

To view a full schedule of events and purchase tickets, visit