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U.S. Championship Cheese Contest Shatters Entry Records with 22% Growth

MADISON, WI – The U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, long noted as the nation’s largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition, has shattered all previous records with a 22% increase in the number of overall entries.

Cheesemakers from across the country have submitted 2,303 entries for evaluation in the Contest, set for March 7-9 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In 2015, when the last U.S. Championship Cheese Contest was held, judges assessed 1,892 entries.

“Emmi Roth USA’s win at last year’s World Championship Cheese Contest boosted their sales, and other cheesemakers took notice,” said Kirsten Henning, Events Manager for the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, the Contest’s host organization. “There’s no doubt that the growth in the number of our Contest entries is related to an increased interest in marketing cheeses as award-winners.”

Wisconsin cheesemakers will have a strong showing in the Contest, but more than half of the entries are coming from 32 other states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington. The Contest will also see entries from 25 first-time competitors.

“Our Contest promises the most robust competition ever, making the trophy even more meaningful,” said Henning.

Henning also noted that the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest features new categories for flavored butter and snack cheese.

Categories that saw the greatest increase in entries include string cheese, which more than doubled in size with 113% growth; soft ripened cheeses, with a 66% spike; and Edam and Gouda, with a 52% rise.

“We consider it critical for our Contest to adjust based on consumer trends, so that every cheesemaker has the opportunity to have their product evaluated by our highly-respected team of judges,” said Henning.

The USCCC judging team, made up of cheese graders, cheese buyers, dairy science professors and researchers, provides feedback on each product’s flavor, body and texture, salt, color, finish, and packaging.

The public is welcome to observe the judges at work on March 7 and 8 between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Lambeau Field Atrium in Green Bay. There is no charge to attend the event.

On March 9, WCMA hosts Cheese Champion, a reception to announce the Contest winners. Lucky ticket-holders can taste more than 40 of the nation’s finest cheeses, paired with local beers and guided by Contest judges. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased at www.uschampioncheese.org. Quantities are already very limited.

Live and taped video, digital images, and real-time results will be posted on the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest website. Visit www.uschampionshipcheese.org for complete contest coverage.

For more information, contact WCMA Events Manager Kirsten Henning via telephone at 608-828-4550 or via email at khenning@wischeesemakers.org.