WCMA Honors U.S. Championship Cheese Contest Leaders

Posted By: Grace Atherton WCMA News,

The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), proud host of the 2023 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, is honoring Michael Pederson of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Dave and Glenda Buholzer, Gary and Corie Grossen, and the Neumeier family of Wisconsin Aging & Grading Cheese and and Integrity Cheese Packaging of Wisconsin for their outstanding contributions to the event. 

“Our Championship Cheese Contests simply wouldn’t be possible without our passionate, dedicated judges and volunteers. We’re deeply grateful for their commitment to the growth, integrity and success of these events,” said Kirsten Strohmenger, Contest Manager. 

The Aschebrock Award: Michael Pederson 

The Aschebrock Award, named for Contest Chief Judge Emeritus Robert Aschebrock, recognizes an outstanding Contest judge and mentor. The Aschebrock Award was presented to longtime Contest judge Michael Pederson on February 22, 2023.  

Pederson has worked for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDATCP) since 1991 and has served as a judge in 14 U.S. and World Championship Cheese Contests. As a WDACTP cheese grader, Pederson performs regulatory grading for cheese and butter made in Wisconsin. His experienced eye for detail and passion for quality makes him a highly valued and respected member of the Championship Cheese Contest judging team. 

The Eggebrecht Award: Dave and Glenda Buholzer and Gary and Corie Grossen 

The Eggebrecht Award, named for the late Contest Committee Chairman and “B-Team” founder Brian Eggebrecht, is presented each year to outstanding Contest volunteers.  On February 22, 2023, Contest leaders presented the Eggebrecht Award to Dave and Glenda Buholzer and Gary and Corie Grossen. 

Dave and Glenda Buholzer lead important aspects of the Championship Cheese Contests. Dave, one of the senior managing partners at Klondike Cheese Company in Monroe, Wisconsin, is integral to Contest logistics, working side by side with Randy Swensen and Steve Krause (another Eggebrecht winner) to assure Contest entries are shipped, stored, and delivered to the judges in peak condition. For many years Glenda has been a leader of the team preparing cheese samples non-stop for cheese-loving consumers who visit the live event. 

Gary and Corie have volunteered at the Championship Cheese Contests for decades. Gary, former owner of Prairie Hill Cheese Factory and later the 17-year resident Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker at Babcock Hall at the University of Wisconsin, works beside Corie each year to assist judges with Contest entries and manage supplies for the event – always remaining until the last knife is cleaned and the final box is packed. Gary and Corie are fixtures in the Wisconsin cheesemaking community, even becoming King and Queen of Monroe Cheese Days in 2008. 

The Schlinsog Award: The Neumeier Family 

The Schlinsog Award, named for Contest Chief Judge Emeritus Bill Schlinsog, is presented annually to a leader in the dairy industry who has helped build and support the excellence of WCMA’s Championship Cheese Contests. In April, the Schlinsog Award will be presented to the Neumeier family.  

Ken Neumeier was born and raised in Green Bay and in 1973 became the second generation of Neumeiers to earn a cheese grader’s license. He has held numerous positions throughout his career as a formulator, a supervisor, a plant manager, a procurement and sales manager, and a cheese judge. He has served as a Championship Cheese Contest judge since 2007. He is the founder of Wisconsin Aging & Grading Cheese, which he started in 2000 and leads with one of his daughters, third-generation Licensed Wisconsin Cheese Grader Kate Neumeier Clarke. Along with Kate, he is also part owner of Integrity Cheese Packing of Wisconsin located in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, which opened in 2018.  

Neumeier has mentored numerous individuals throughout his career to receive their cheese grading license, teaching them never to compromise on what they stand for and what they represent. With more than 50 years in the cheese industry, he continues to promote the dairy industry by proudly supporting farmers and cheesemakers, and he has inspired others to strive for the best quality product while working with integrity and passion. 

The Neumeier family manifests this passion for quality each year by donating the services of their team to Contest planning and execution, particularly at the WOW Logistics site in Little Chute, Wisconsin, where Contest entries are assembled, sorted, tagged and prepared for shipment to the event. Wisconsin Aging & Grading Cheese employee Randy Swensen is now Contest Director of Logistics. This 20-year partnership with WCMA is crucial to the execution of this major industry event. 

The Schlinsog Award will be presented on Thursday, April 6 at the U.S. Champions Awards Banquet at CheeseCon 2023. Registration for the conference is open now at CheeseCon.org, with special early-bird rates available until March 1.