September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Breinne Hendrickson, Belleville, Wis., and Sarah Sacker, Monroe, Wis., served as the official hostesses of Cheese Days through their role as the 2014 Cheese Days Ambassadors. They traveled the state promoting the event as well as introducing entertainment and participating in events during Cheese Days. "It's a really great way to promote Wisconsin agriculture, specifically Green County agriculture, and the products we produce," said Sacker. "We have a lot of really awesome cheesemakers that produce a lot of amazing cheeses right here in Green County. I think it's a great way for consumers to learn about Green County, the amazing cheese we produce, and all the work that goes into producing it."
"Cheese Days always brings everyone together and really celebrates what we work for every day, which is the products we make on our dairy farms and the cheesemakers who develop such wonderful cheeses," said Hendrickson. Both Hendrickson and Sacker grew up on registered Holstein dairy farms in Green County.
Cheese Days is not just a local treasure. People come from all over to attend the festivities. "I met 14 people that came all the way from Florida just to come to Cheese Days and run in the Cheese Days Chase," said Sacker. Andrea and Mike Kincaid and their daughter, Keira came from Milwaukee to take part in the event and get a few of their favorite fried cheese curds. Andrea, who had attended Cheese Days as a kid, said the biggest change she saw was the size. "There are way more people than when I was a kid," she said. "It has really grown." The attendance has grown tremendously from an estimated 4,000 people attending in 1914, to the estimated crowd of 95,000 that attended this year's festival.
One event that produced a huge turnout was the milking contest. The contest, which was started in 1970, gives pros and novices alike the opportunity to try their luck at milking a cow by hand. Teams of three to four members milk by hand for one minute each, with the team that has the most milk at the end taking home the prize. Dr. Mark Thompson and his son Jonah participated as part of the Monroe Clinic team. "The Monroe Clinic likes to be involved in the community and I thought it would be fun," said Thompson.
Wisconsin's 2013 Alice in Dairyland, Zoey Brooks, was in attendance at the milking contest. "Watching the milking contest is awesome and we have a huge cheering crowd here," said Brooks. "We are in the heart of cheese country and dairy country here in Green County and it's an event that people get excited about. They get excited about our dairy industry and agriculture here in Wisconsin and they get to see it up close. They get to see cows right down here on the square, see where their milk comes from, and get to try the cheese that is being produced."
Another event that gives people an up close look at Green County's dairy industry is the farm tours. Tours were given at Voegeli Farm Inc, Monticello, Wis., and High Road Dairy, Monroe, Wis. Kathy Booher and her kids Luke and Grace came from Greyslake, Ill., to attend the tours. "The farm tours are our favorite part," said Booher.
One of the biggest draws of the weekend is the Cheese Day's parade, kicked off by 21 Brown Swiss cows led by local farmers in traditional Swiss dress. Jeremy and Kelsi Mayer led two animals from their farm, Mayer Homestead, in this year's parade. Jeremy has been involved in the milking contest for 16 years and has been bringing animals to the parade since 2002. "People are so removed from the farm today, but their grandparents or great grandparents were connected to farming, so the parade is a way of going back to your roots," said Mayer. "A lot of people have never seen a cow in person, and the parade gives a historical value of what they did in Switzerland and what we have been doing for 100 years for Cheese Days."
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