CheeseTopia: Bringing Artisan Cheese to the Heart of the City

It’s official: you can book April 12, 2015 on your calendars for the First Annual CheeseTopia, a new one-day cheese festival I’ll be planning each year for the next three years. Year one will be at the Pritzlaff Building, a renovated warehouse in the Historic Third Ward of downtown Milwaukee, Year two will be in Chicago, and Year 3 in Minneapolis.

After retiring the annual Wisconsin Cheese Originals Festival in 2013, I still wanted to do an event to highlight our amazing artisan cheesemakers, but I knew I wanted it to be something different.

CheeseTopia aims to bring the best of Midwest artisan and farmstead cheese to the heart of the city by offering up to 700 attendees the opportunity to sample and purchase cheese from more than 50 cheesemakers from the Great Lakes Region, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan. The festival will be open from Noon to 4 p.m. on a Sunday and offer a fun open marketplace atmosphere with cheese samples and a cash bar.

I’ll also be asking several favors from long-time cheese industry friends to help me build two large edible displays of cheese to compliment the hundreds of cheese samples available from cheesemakers. While many artisans will sell their products, farmer’s market style, those who don’t will have an opportunity to have them available for purchase from Larry’s Market, which will set up a beautiful table of cheeses for sale at the event. Thank you Steve Ehlers and Patty Peterson!

In addition, several breakout seminars will take place in separate meeting spaces inside the Pritzlaff Building, which was constructed in 1875 and just recently renovated. More than 20,000 square feet of floor space will be filled with cheesemaker tables surrounded by carved wooden beams, industrial age columns, Victorian era arched windows and gritty cream city brick. This is a building you truly need to step inside and appreciate.

Tickets will likely cost $25 and will go on sale after the first of the year. As always, faithful members of Wisconsin Cheese Originals will have first chance to purchase entry and sign up for seminars, which I expect may sell out before the event is opened to the public.

Thank you in advance for supporting our artisan and farmstead cheesemakers and I look forward to seeing you all in April in Milwaukee!

Governor Scott Walker Proclaims October as Cheese Month

Finally, we have an important issue that politicians in the State of Wisconsin can agree on. Today (this is breaking news, people), Governor Scott Walker proclaimed October as official “Cheese Month” in the State of Wisconsin. And here’s the certificate to prove it:

The proclamation comes courtesy of the fabulous Patty Peterson at Larry’s Market in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, who in August, wrote the governor’s office, asking him to join the American Cheese Society in declaring October as American Cheese Month. “I think this is a natural fit for Wisconsin with our rich dairy heritage and wonderful new cheese artisans and entrepreneurs,” Patty wrote in her request. You go, girl.

The request was then funneled to Bob Nenno, Proclamation Director (I didn’t know we even had a Proclamation Director), and after consideration from Bob and his supervisor, the Governor approved the designation. This afternoon, his staff sent Patty an email with a copy of the document. The original is set to be mailed next week.

According to Dorothy Moore, Executive Assistant to Governor Scott Walker, the “governor loves cheese.”

So there you have it, folks. October is officially “Cheese Month” in Wisconsin. Party on.