Cheese: it’s not just a Wisconsin thing

On Sunday, June 3 the Minnesota State Fair Grounds will host the first annual Minnesota Cheese Festival. The event will feature professional cheesemakers, home cheesemakers, chefs and wine-pairing experts.


Bent River cheese

Image courtesy Whitne McChane

Festival organizer Whitney McChane says while Wisconsin is best known for its thriving cheese-making industry, Minnesota is in fact the No. 6 cheese producing state in the US:

In recent years, the state’s processed cheese giants have been joined by world-class artisan cheese producers – such as Caves of Faribault, Alemar Cheese Co. and Shepherd’s Way Farms. Keith Adams from Alemar Cheese Co says it best: “Minnesota has a long and rich history of dairy farming, and while our output can’t compete with our Eastern neighbor Wisconsin, our milk quality certainly can. And, if it isn’t immediately apparent, great cheese can only be made from great milk.”

As far as McChane knows, this is Minnesota’s first festival entirely dedicated to cheese.

Some area foodie events are diluted with irrelevant vendors selling crafts or insurance – you absolutely will not encounter that at the Minnesota Cheese Festival. Our focus is specialty, artisan and farmstead cheeses, and the incredible food and beverage pairings that bring cheese to life. The aim of the Festival is to raise awareness for the growing cheese making community in Minnesota while creating opportunities for caseophiles (cheese lovers!) to sample and purchase new cheeses.


According to agricultural reports, Americans are consuming more specialty (“artisanal” or “farmstead”) cheeses than ever before.

Image courtesy Whitne McChane

McChane says while Wisconsin has state-run programs that support the cheesemaking community, the resources for Minnesota cheesemakers are limited, and marketing often falls to the end of the “must do” list. This event is designed to support and empower the local cheesemaking community and foster a sense of pride among Minnesota residents.

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