They say it takes a village to raise a child. Here in Wisconsin, it takes a tight-knit cheese community to pull off a three-day artisan cheese festival, and boy, do we do it in style.
The Second Annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival started Friday and ended Sunday. It included two all-day dairy tours, eight evening cheesemaker dinners, three morning farmers' market tours, eight different afternoon tasting seminars, an evening Meet the Cheesemaker Gala with 31 companies and 300 attendees, and a 50-vendor Artisan Marketplace that drew 400 people, all of whom went home sporting bright-red Wisconsin Cheese Originals grocery totes chock full of Wisconsin cheese and local gourmet foods.
Yes, more than 1,000 people from around the country spent the weekend in Madison, all in the name of cheese.
And I was afraid I'd throw a party and no one would come.
Thanks to 31 Wisconsin cheesemakers, 22 seminar leaders, 8 chefs, 17 volunteers and a husband who deserves a gold medal for putting up with the festival organizer from hell, another Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival is in the bag. Yee-haw. Thank you to everyone who presented, attended, ate, talked and schlepped cheese. You gave up a weekend to help me promote Wisconsin artisan cheese and I thank you.
Next up: mark your calendar for the Third Annual Wisconsin Original Cheese Festival: Nov. 4, 5, 6, 2011. Same place, same shindig. Just bigger and better.