More than 20 Connecticut farms and artisanal food and drink purveyors will be setting up shop Sunday, Sept. 23, at Jones Family Farms for the inaugural Nutmegger Cheese & Wine Festival. In the 1840s, Connecticut was the leading producer of cheese in the country, according to Shelton Farmer Terry Jones and, and dairy products are still an integral part of the state\u2019s agriculture. \u201cWe want to highlight all these innovative things happening through Connecticut farms, particularly in dairy, with cheeses, yogurt and ice cream,\u201d Jones said. \u201cWe have a couple dozen different vendors coming who are all doing really cutting edge stuff.\u201d The vendors, offering samples of their goods and items for sale, include cheesemakers, chefs that use local product, wine-makers and more. Special guests include Gov. Dannel Malloy and Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture Steven K. Reviczky, as well as Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers, and Jason Sobocinski of Caseus in New Haven. Visitors will learn about all the state has to offer. \u201cCelebrate the artisanal food crafts of our farmers, created by their partnership with the soils and sunshine of our state to produce these flavorful Conecticut foods,\u201d Jones writes of the festival. \u201cWe thank the goats, sheep and cows that are the essential partners of the cheesemakers. And, we appreciate the artistry of our winemakers and chefs that bring our homegrown flavors to a superb level of tasteful pleasure.\u201d Jones Farms is co-hosting the festival with the Working Lands Alliance, a coalition that champions policy and education initiatives to protect state farmland. Jones is a chair of the Working Lands Alliance. The ticket sales benefit the Working Lands Alliance and The Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS). VITAHLS is a cooperative pilot program through Griffin Hospital that is working with five local school districts to develop and implement obesity prevention programs in the schools. Efforts include better nutrition education and finding ways to integrate more physical activity into the regular school day. Terry Jones is a member of the state Board of Education and an advocate for the VITAHLS program. \u201cThe governor and I have talked about the VITAHLS program and it\u2019s just great to see five school districts working together,\u201d Jones said. \u201cThat\u2019s the future of the state, collaboration and a sharing of resources. The event The festival starts at noon on Sunday and runs until 4 at Jones\u2019 Pumpkinseed Hill Farm, 120 Beardsley Road. If it rains, the event will go on in the barn and under tents. The festival includes vineyard tours, hayrides, cheesemaker talks, contests, book signings, live music with Ken Coulson & Gatsby\u2019s Green Light, a silent auction and more. Tickets are $50 in advance and $55 at the door. Kids under 12 are $10. The vendors include: \u2022 Arethusa Farm \u2022 Beltane Farm \u2022 Bishop\u2019s Orchards \u2022 Culture Magazine \u2022 Cato Corner Farm \u2022 Butterfield Farm Company \u2022 Caseus Fromagerie Bistro \u2022 Fairfield Cheese Company \u2022 Hopkins Vineyard \u2022 Jones Family Farms \u2022 M&K Dairy Ladies of Levita Road \u2022 Meadow Stone Farm \u2022 Sankow\u2019s Beaver Brook Farm \u2022 Saxelby Cheesemongers \u2022 Skinny Pines Brick Oven Caterer \u2022 Sugar & Olives \u2022 Sunset Meadow Vineyards \u2022 Sully Woodcrafted \u2022 Swords into Plowshares Honey and Candles \u2022 The Farmer\u2019s Cow \u2022 Tulmeadow Farm \u2022 Wave Hill Breads Bakery and Cafe. Three unique experiences will be up for auction at the event. Festival-goers may bid on a farm lunch for up to 10 people with Gov. Malloy at Jones Family Farms\u2019 Harvest Kitchen; brunch with Steven Reviczky, CT commissioner of agriculture, and his wife Jill at their home in Coventry, or breakfast with Stefan Pryor, state commissioner of education, at historic Clark\u2019s Dairy in New Haven. In memory The 2012 Nutmegger Festival is dedicated to Sandy Rotival and his wife, Edith, of Woodstock, Conn. They loved Connecticut\u2019s farms and forests and served as strong supporters of the efforts, according to Jones. Several of the couple\u2019s family members from France are flying in for the event. To buy tickets in advance, visit jonesfamilyfarms.com\/nutmegger-cheese-and-wine-festival and click on the ticket link, or visit workinglandsalliance.org. Tickets will also be sold that day. For more information call Leah Mayor of the Working Lands Alliance at 203-988-3270.