A Weekend to Celebrate Cheese

By Olivia Mizelle | Photo courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

When people think of Wisconsin, they think of cheese — and for good reason: the state has the most licensed cheesemakers and dairy farms in the country, according to Wisconsin State Farmer.

From Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, people will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in all things cheese at the very first Art of Cheese Festival, organized by Wisconsin Cheese, the marketing arm of the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

The first day of the festival offers four excursion options, one of which will take guests to UW–Madison’s Center for Dairy Research to explore the science of cheesemaking and visit the site of the U.S.’s only Master Cheesemaker Program (Europe also has a program). Rachel Kerr, senior director of experiential and brand marketing for the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, says that cheese “really is an art and a science.”

“We’re home to so many amazing family owned dairy farms that provide amazing quality milk to create these award-winning cheeses,” Kerr explains. “Wisconsin really is at the forefront of the cheese industry not just nationally, but globally as well.”

Another excursion will take visitors to Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville to meet head cheesemaker Andy Hatch. To close out Friday, the Wisconsin Cheese Ball will be hosted at Garver Feed Mill. The shindig will feature gourmet food, wine, a variety of Wisconsin cheeses (of course!) and a chance to mingle with Wisconsin cheesemakers. Kerr assures it will be an “all-out celebration of Wisconsin cheese.”

There are plenty of events to choose from on Saturday, from cooking classes to how construct an artful cheese board to a cheese crawl, where attendees will visit Giant Jones Brewery, Working Draft Beer Company and Stateline Distillery. The only non-ticketed event will be the Cheese Fair Off the Square (taking place alongside the Dane County Farmers’ Market) where Kerr says cheese lovers of all ages can sample a variety of award-winning Wisconsin cheeses.

Sunday closes out the cheese-packed weekend with a yoga class and a brunch featuring female cheesemakers. Kerr says that the goal of this festival is to give people a firsthand look at the process and people behind the craft of cheesemaking.

“It’s all about connecting people with the people and the places that make Wisconsin so special,” she says.

Find out more at wisconsincheese.com/inspiration/art-of-cheese-festival.

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