Being June Dairy Month and all, my thoughts are naturally on cheese. Well okay, my thoughts are always on cheese. But this week, I’ve been concentrating on setting up the Second Annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival, coming up in November.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: November is five months away. But I can’t help it. I’m super excited and have to share my news.
So as you may recall last year, 700 tickets were sold out in just three weeks to a crazed crowd of cheese enthusiasts and dairy buyers from around the country. Thanks to all of you and the support you showed for the event, I’ve decided to expand the festival to a three-day hoopla this year. So boys and girls, prepare to put these dates on your calendar now:
November 5, 6, 7 – at the Monona Terrace in downtown Madison. Whoo-hoo! Cue the cymbals.
This year, more than 1,200 tickets will be available to a wide array of events, including two different creamery and dairy farm tours, seven private cheesemaker dinners, eight tasting seminars, an evening Meet the Cheesemaker Gala with 35 cheesemakers, and a new Sunday Artisan Marketplace with 60 vendors.
Here are the details:
Friday Tours: Choose between:
A) Take a behind-the-scenes morning cheesemaking tour of Chalet Cheese Cooperative, enjoy lunch at the legendary Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern in downtown Monroe, and then embark on an afternoon tour of the award-winning Emmi-Roth Kase cheese plant. You’ll end with an amazing Fondue Tasting in Roth Kase’s culinary center. Start your diet now to prepare for this tour. Limited to 20 people. Tickets: $55.
B) Visit Sassy Cow Creamery, a farmstead dairy plant near Columbus and enjoy a personal behind-the-scenes tour of this milk bottling and cheese plant. Taste cheese curds warm and squeaky, right out of the vat. Enjoy a farmhouse lunch and outdoor tour of the Baerwolf Dairy Farm, with an afternoon pasture walk and up close and personal visit with a herd of dairy cows christened with names like Marlie & Blossom. Limited to 15 people. Tickets: $55.
Friday Dine Around: Experience a culinary sensation at one of seven participating Madison Originals restaurants. Each chef will partner with a Wisconsin cheesemaker and host a one-of-a-kind three-course dinner. You’ll join the featured cheesemaker at a private table for 12. Tickets: $75.
Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market: Join a small group of 4-5 people for a personalized walking tour of the nation’s largest producer-driven Farmer’s Market with personal introductions to more than six cheesemakers. Lunch at Fromagination included. Tickets: $35.
Saturday Afternoon Seminars: Choose from a stunning line-up of eight seminars. Enjoy wine, beer, rum, chocolate & cheese pairings. Learn the art of building the perfect cheese plate. Discover a new era of blue cheeses. Meet the women who are making some of the best farmstead cheeses today, and introduce yourself to the next generation of Wisconsin cheesemakers. You’ll be a cheese geek by the end of the day. All seminars including cheese tastings. Tickets range from $25 – $40 per seminar.
Saturday Night Meet the Cheesemaker Gala
Reception: This is the highlight of the whole weekend. You’ll shake hands and talk shop with 35 Wisconsin rock star cheesemakers and sample 150 original cheeses. This event will again be limited to 300 tickets to allow all attendees 1:1 time with cheesemakers. Tickets: $28.
Sunday Artisan Marketplace: New this year! We’ll showcase 60 of the state’s finest artisan cheesemakers, gourmet and specialty food companies, and artists in a farmer’s market setting. All attendees will receive a free insulated cooler bag to keep your cheese purchases cold on the way home. Tickets: $12.
All events will require advance tickets, to go on sale in September. Because this festival is sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese Originals, tickets will go on sale to members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals one week before the event, with remaining tickets on sale to the public afterward. Fear not: if you want advance tickets, just join. Membership to Wisconsin Cheese Originals is only $35 a year and you get loads of stuff – including exclusive invitations to events like a June 20 Wisconsin Cheesemaker Dinner or an August 7 Cheesemaking Tour at Hidden Springs Creamery. Check out other membership perks here.
A special shout-out to the folks who’ve really stepped up this year and are helping financially sponsor the festival. Kudos to: Klondike Cheese, World Import Distributors, BelGioioso Cheese, Emmi-Roth Kase USA, Fromagination, Dairy Business Innovation Center, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Hook’s Cheese, Planning Options, Uplands Cheese and Widmer’s Cheese Cellars. You guys rock.
I am SO looking forward to gleefully entering my annual cheese coma with all of you this November. Feel free to contact me with questions.