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Crater Works debut during Oregon Cheese Festival

Crater Works takes shape in old Crater Iron Works building (Trish Glose/KTVL)
Crater Works takes shape in old Crater Iron Works building (Trish Glose/KTVL)
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For the last 15 years, the Rogue Creamery in Central Point has opened its doors and its space to cheese makers, wineries, breweries, chocolate makers and so many others, all for the Oregon Cheese Festival.

It’s evolved and expanded in the last several years, from the Oregon Blue Fest in 2003, “and it actually started right here at Rogue Creamery in our make room. We invited guests into our make room, where we covered the vats and makers lined the walls of our store and around each of the vats, serving the guests that came in to talk about their cheeses, their wines and beers,” David Gremmels with Rogue Creamery says.

This year, certified cheese professionals and sommeliers are coming in to provide expert cheese classes. A little different from the beginning, Gremmels says, “In those days we would show people how to make mozzarella, it was really fun and engaging. Some of the batches turned out, some of them didn't, but it was always an opportunity to laugh and enjoy and talk about cheese making.”

Anyone who has attended in the last several years, knows that each year it gets bigger, and many would say better.

“So, the rumor is out,” Gremmels laughs. “We have guests coming in from France and New York and Vermont. We also have cheesemakers showcasing their products from California, Idaho and Utah and Vermont as well, so it continues to evolve and grow.”

This year, festival goers will something completely new and a little different. It’s an open house, of sorts, right in the middle of the festival. It may also answer some questions about the happenings on Highway 99.

“What we're seeking is a preservation of our history, as well as bridging it into the future in a way that meets the needs of technology and contemporary aesthetic,” Chris Brown says. Brown is with Arkitek: Design and Architecture, based in Ashland. He was tasked by the Central Point School District, along with several others to create, in his words, “an industrial hybrid classroom, maker-space, and professional enterprise zone.”

It’s all happening in the old Crater Iron Works building on Highway 99. It’s called Crater Works.

“We have design lab, brain lab, and medal and wood fabrication as well as 3D printing resources, CNC milling and manufacturing. What we're trying to do is bridge industrial technologies with some of the emerging digital printing, fabrication and prototyping industries globally so students here can have a platform to step into the professional world right from high school,” Brown says.

Brown says there will also be a commercial kitchen, a future ceramics studio, and audio video production. The twist here, is that the community can take advantage, too.

Local residents and professionals can purchase a membership for this space, much like a gym. Those who want to have an open wood or metal shop, or learn new skills and work alongside students can do so.

“It's a real cutting-edge platform and I think Central Point is on the real verge here of what we're seeing in education trends,” Brown says.

Many features were preserved in the building, from the gantry cranes to the industrial green paint.

In one unfinished classroom, Brown points out certain features, “We have micro design stations, what we have our 4 computer hubs where people could come and give presentations, people can meet with clients, students can be designing for direct fabrication in the wood shop and steel shop and 3D printing. So, this is really where designs take place, presentations take place, and we have exposed trusses, exposed lighting so essentially, it's like an open textbook on construction as well. 2:34"

It's recycling at its best. Taking something old and somewhat historic in Central Point and completely transforming it for the entire community.

“Being right on 99, I'm sure there have been a lot of questions about it, the space has really been transformed,” Brown says.

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