The party has officially started! Tickets to the Fifth Annual Wisconsin Cheese Originals Festival went on sale to the public bright and early this morning, offering attendees the chance to meet more than 40 artisan cheesemakers through two days of tours, seminars, dinners, and the popular Meet the Cheesemaker Gala at Monona Terrace.

Hosted by Wisconsin Cheese Originals, the theme of the Nov. 1-2 festival is “The Arrival of American Artisan Cheese.” Cheesemakers and national speakers from across the country are helping us celebrate our fifth year, and as usual, about 1,000 people are expected to trek to Madison for the event. Tickets are available online at

Here’s what we’ve got planned for this year:

On Friday morning, Nov. 1, three all-day tours kick off the event and motor to nine different cheese factories and dairy farms, giving attendees a backstage pass to Wisconsin’s growing dairy artisan community and food culture.

Then on Friday night, the Meet the Cheesemaker Gala moves into the ballroom at Monona Terrace and is ticketed in two time slots, from 6 to 8 p.m., and 8 to 10 p.m. Each session is limited to 300 attendees, allowing everyone to personally meet and greet cheesemakers in a relaxed and enjoyable setting. Attendees should come ready to taste and then purchase their favorite cheeses at the expanded Metcalfe’s Marketplace inside the Gala. More than 40 cheesemakers and food artisans from four states will sample 200 different cheeses and foods.

On Saturday, the festival switches into educational mode with an all-day seminar track, kicking off with a 10:30 a.m. keynote by national cheese expert Laura Werlin. Following lunch with a cheese and chocolate pairing in the Grand Terrace, attendees will enjoy an afternoon seminar and tasting session of Wisconsin original cheeses vs. European traditional cheeses. Attendees may also choose from two different afternoon sessions pairing cheese with craft beer and fine brandy.

On Saturday night, the festival concludes with the festival’s signature cheesemaker dinners at three different Madison restaurants, where each chef prepares an exclusive three-course dinner featuring Wisconsin cheese. Attendees join the featured cheesemaker in a private room set for 30.

For the first time ever, we’ll even have t-shirts for sale, featuring the super awesome logo that Leah Caplan and the folks at Cricket Design Works created for me.

I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to all sponsors of the Fifth Annual Wisconsin Cheese Originals Festival, who without your support, this festival would not continue. Please take a moment to thank the following companies when you see them out and about:

  • Marquee sponsor: Emmi Roth USA
  • Platinum sponsor: Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
  • Gold sponsors: Sartori Foods and World Import Distributors
  • Silver sponsors: BelGioioso Cheese, Klondike Cheese and Organic Valley
  • Bronze sponsors: Arla Foods, Carr Valley Cheese, Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Dairy Connection Inc., Fromagination, Roelli Cheese, Saputo Specialty Cheese, Sugar Brook Farms and Uplands Cheese 
  • Supporting sponsors: Hook’s Cheese Company and Widmer’s Cheese Cellars

See you all in November!