Cheese Days 100th Anniversary Preview: Monroe, Wisc.

WedgieMark your calendar. Make your hotel reservation now in or near Monroe, Wisconsin. If the preview I attended in June for the Green County Cheese Days 100th anniversary is any indication, you’ll be in for a real treat the weekend of September 19-21, 2014. Green County promises tremendous fun in the true Green County Swiss way: sausage, beer, polka, yodeling, and of course, cheese, lots of cheese.

The history
Inspired by Sauerkraut Day in Forreston, Illinois, Cheese Days was started in 1914 to attract visitors. Attract it did. 4,000 people attended that first festival where 13,000 cheese sandwiches were served and folks were entertained by vaudeville acts. The festival was held sporadically at first, skipping five and ten years at times, until in 1970 it was decided to hold the festival every two years. Today more than 100,000 people attend the biennial event.

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The food
At the preview I sampled the Monroe Optimist Club’s deep-fried cheese curds, touted as the best cheese curds you’ll ever taste. I have to agree. And the only places you can get them are at the Cheese Days Festival and the Green County Fair, so it’s no surprise to hear there’s always a line for them.

Cheese curds

I also tasted a creamy, gooey gourmet grilled cheese sandwich (with secret sauce), cheese and chocolate pairings, locally made Greek yogurt, bacon bratwurst and Bratzeli cookies made with a batter in an iron the same as many similar European cookies, but wafer thin and crispy. I sipped local beer and locally made root beer. These goodies are just the start of what will be offered around the square and in the Hospitality Tent at the September fair.

Cheese and chocolate pairing

Cheese and chocolate pairing 2

Demonstrations and roylty
A few Swiss craft examples were on hand, including paper snipped into intricate patterns in a method called Scherenschnitte and a demonstration of chip carving.

Chip Carving

Carving

We were introduced to both Cheese Days royalty and the Green County Dairy Queen and Princess.

Queen and princess

The entertainment
John Waelti and Bobbie Edler entertained with accordion music at the preview and accompanied teen yodeler Cammi Ganshert. Tony Zgraggen also entertained with a solo yodel and then later joined the rest of the New Glarus Yodel Club for another performance. Watch the video below for snippets of the preview entertainment.

Much more at Cheese Days
At the September 19-21 festival, you’ll also see old time copper kettle cheese making demonstrations, cheese carving, a cow milking contest and a big parade sponsored by The Swiss Colony. Get your photo taken sporting a milk mustache at the Family Farm Adventure tent, tour a dairy farm, or take polka lessons.

For the full schedule and list of vendors for the September 19-21 event, see the Green County Cheese Days web site.

Disclosure: My visit to the Cheese Days Media Preview was hosted by the Green County Tourism, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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