Exciting news, cheese peeps. Today I announced that CheeseTopia, a new one-day traveling festival that aims to bring the best of the Midwest’s farmstead and artisan cheeses to the heart of the city, officially debuts in Milwaukee on April 12.

Tickets are $25 and go on sale to the public on Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. Members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals may purchase tickets one week earlier. All tickets will be sold in advance.

The event will take place inside the Pritzlaff Building, a renovated warehouse in the Historic Third Ward of Milwaukee. More than 20,000 square feet of floor space will be filled with cheesemaker and artisan food tables surrounded by carved wooden beams, industrial age columns, Victorian era arched windows and gritty cream city brick. Year two of the festival will be in Chicago, while year three is set to take place in Minneapolis.

The goal of CheeseTopia is to bring the best of Midwest artisan and farmstead cheese to the heart of major cities by offering attendees the opportunity to sample and purchase cheese from 40 cheesemakers and local artisans from the Great Lakes Region, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. The festival will be open from Noon to 4 p.m.  and offer a fun open marketplace atmosphere with cheese samples and a cash bar.

Here’s a list of participating cheesemakers, with more likely to be added in the next week or two:

  • Alemar Cheese Company, Mankato, MN
  • Burnett Dairy Cooperative, Grantsburg, WI
  • Capri Cheese, Blue River, WI
  • Caprine Supreme, Black River, WI
  • Carr Valley Cheese, LaValle, WI
  • Clock Shadow Creamery, Milwaukee, WI
  • Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Waterloo, WI
  • Crème de la Coulee Artisan Cheese, Madison, WI
  • Emmi Roth USA, Monroe, WI
  • Harmony Specialty Dairy Foods, Stratford, WI
  • Hidden Springs Creamery, Westby, WI
  • Holland’s Family Cheese, Thorp, WI
  • Klondike Cheese, Monroe, WI
  • Koepke Family Farms, Oconomowoc, WI
  • LaClare Farms Specialties, Malone, WI
  • Landmark Creamery, Albany, WI
  • Ludwig Farmstead Creamery, Fifthian, IL
  • Maple Leaf Cheese, Monroe, WI
  • Marcoot Jersery Creamery, Greenville, IL
  • Martha’s Pimento Cheese, Milwaukee, WI
  • Montchevre-Betin Inc, Belmont, WI
  • PastureLand, Belleville, WI
  • Prairie Fruits Farm, Champaign, IL
  • Roelli Cheese, Shullsburg, WI
  • Sartori Company, Plymouth, WI
  • Saxon Creamery, Cleveland, WI
  • Springside Cheese Corp, Oconto Falls, WI
  • Tea-Rose Toggenburgs, Custer, WI
  • The Artisan Cheese Exchange, Sheboygan, WI
  • Treat Bakehouse, Milwaukee, WI
  • Uplands Cheese, Dodgeville, WI

While many of these artisans will sell their products, farmer’s market style, those who don’t have the opportunity to make cheese available for purchase from Larry’s Market. Owners Steve Ehlers and Patty Peterson will set up tables of cheeses for sale at CheeseTopia, bringing a slice of their Brown Deer market to the heart of the city. Thank you, Larry’s Market!

In addition, breakout seminars will take place in separate meeting spaces inside the Pritzlaff Building, which was constructed in 1875 and just recently renovated. Seminar topics will be announced next week. Stay tuned!