Cheese Days 100

Discover Wisconsin

November 4, 2013

Cheese Days 100th Anniversary logo
2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Cheese Days. We’re celebrating a little early with 100 facts about this signature Wisconsin event, Green County and Swiss Heritage.

      1. 1914

        1914 CommitteeThe idea of Cheese Days originated when 4 Monroe-ites visited Sauerkraut Day in Forreston, IL. They returned to Green County and just 19 days later the first Cheese Days was born.

      2. Alphorns on the Tower

        Alphorns on the TowerIn 1974, Archie Myers climbed to the top of the Courthouse Tower to blow an alphorn to kick off Cheese Days. He did that just once!

      3. Wedgie – The Cheese Days Mascot

        Wedgie - The Cheese Days Mascot Cheese Days’ official mascot, Wedgie, joined Facebook in 2012.

      4. “Come to Cheese Days”

        "Come to Cheese Days" “Come to Cheese Days” was recorded in the 60s. Rudy Burkhalter lent his vocal chops and Martha Bernet yodeled for this Cheese Days original. Haven’t heard the song? Listen here:

      5. Biennial Celebration

        1972 Flyer Cheese Days has been celebrated every 2 years on even-numbered years since 1972.

  • 200+

    Raising Curd At one time there were more than 200 cheese factories in Green County.

  • Cheese Days was canceled in 1918 due to World War I.

  • In 1940, Mrs. William Chambers of Juda was the winner of the cow milking competition by getting nearly 20 pounds of milk from the cow in three minutes.

  • A purebred bull calf was the first place prize of the Schwingest (Swiss wrestling) in 1990

  • Every Five Years

    1955 Flyer Between 1935 and 1955, Cheese Days was celebrated every five years.

  • 75 wheels of Swiss Cheese were used to spelled out “Cheese Day” on the lawn at Town Hall Cheese Factory in 1955.

  • Cheese Days became a two-day event in 1965.

  • A “Tallest Stalk of Corn” contest was held in 1915.

  • Postmaster John Burkhard was honored as the 1935 Cheese Day chairman.

  • Turner Hall hosted a jitterbug contest in 1940.

  • World Famous

    FlagMonroe was recognized as the “Swiss Cheese Capital of the USA” in 1923.

  • Had you attended the festival in 1955, you’d have had a choice of a Limburger, Brick or Swiss cheese sandwich.

  • 15 pickpocketers were arrested in 1917.

  • 19 Days

    Cheese Days The first Cheese Days celebration was planned in just 19 days.

  • In 1950, 60,000 cheese sandwiches sold for 10 cents each.

  • Limburger “sniffing duel” fueled publicity for the event in 1935.

  • First Cheese Day Chase was held in 1978.

  • The 1972 parade was rained out.

  • Entertainment

    p1955Entertaining the crowds at Cheese Days is as important as the cheese itself. In 1955, Doran Zwygart serves as the chairperson of entertainment.

  • A million promotional “neckbands” appeared on bottles of Huber Beer in 1955.

  • The arts and crafts fair was introduced back in 1970.

  • More than 25,000 cheese sandwiches were consumed in 1928 at Cheese Days.

  • Another 10,000 people

    1940 Car 60-70,000 People attended the 1940 Cheese Days event – up from 50,000 in 1935.

  • The 1940 parade featured giant inflatable balloons.

  • More than 500 volunteers help run Cheese Days.

  • The 1965 parade featured 30 bands.

  • A 1970 Ford Pinto was once the grand prize for a festival raffle.

  • 2004 Cheesecake Contest contender:  Limburger Cow Pie Cheesecake

  • Get Your Ticket

    Optimist TicketThe Monroe Optimists tweaked a special cheese curd recipe they received from the Green Bay Optimists to make it their own.

  • It takes 30 workers per shift to keep the Optimist Cheese Curd booth operating.

  • 30 different committees help plan and run the festival.

  • 20,000 people attended the second festival.

  • Green County Cheese Days was publicized on ABC’s Good Morning America.

  • In 1916, crowds watched Fred Steinman turn 2,000 pounds of milk into a giant wheel of cheese.

  • Cheese Art

    Cheese LadyCheese has been sculpted into many forms throughout the years at Cheese Days. Here’s Sarah the Cheese Lady’s interpretation of Wedgie.

  • A 2012 cheese carver created Bucky Badger from a block of Maple Leaf Cheddar.

  • 176 “Thank You” notes were written in 2012.

  • The Cheese Days song was recorded by the Monroe High School Band in 1965.

  • About 125 barn quilts exist throughout Green County.

  • Brewing Tradition

    Minhas BreweryGreen County is home to two breweries – Minhas Craft Brewery and New Glarus Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Minhas Brewery.

  • 30,000 collectible cans of Augsburger beer were sold to promote the 1984 festival.

  • The oldest surviving alphorns dates back to 1400 A.D.

  • Decatur Dairy produces 40 different types of cheese.

  • World War II canceled the 1945 Cheese Day festival.

  • 1,200 loaves of bread were sliced for sandwiches in 1928.

  • 1998 marked the first Cheese Days Golf Classic.

  • Musical History

    AccordionWhile the accordion was first played by the Swiss, the instrument’s name actually derives from the German word “akkord,” which means “agreement or harmony.”

  • Cheese Days song re-recorded for jukebox in 1967.

  • 1950’s Cheese Days slogan was “Don’t Miss the Swiss at Monroe Wis Cheese Days” – submitted by Mrs. CW Chambers.

  • “Eat More Cheese” was the festival’s slogan in 1923.

  • The 1916 parade included 23 entries in the circus section.

  • The Vintage Swiss postauto bus appeared in the 2006 parade.

  • The Hospitality Tent was introduced in 2004

  • Silver-Lewis Cooperative in Monticello dates back to 1897.

  • Home Cheese Home

    Cheese ShelvesGreen County is home to the largest concentration of cheesemakers in the country.

  • The Family Farm Adventure Tent made its debut in 2008.

  • The “Swiss Dollar” appeared in 1972 as a souvenir.

  • Chalet Cheese Cooperative is the only producer of Limburger in the U.S.

  • Nicholas Gerber opened the first cheese factory in Green County in 1868.

  • Marion Burgy of Monticello was the first Cheese Days Queen back in 1923.

  • 13,000 cheese sandwiches were served in 1914.

  • Parades!

    P0031915 Marked the first Cheese Days Parade.

  • The four-mile, 1917 parade included 150 decorated cattle led by Swiss dairy maids.

  • The title sponsor of the Cheese Days Parade, The Swiss Colony, began selling cheese in 1926.

  • St. Victor School’s “The Golden Rule…Do Unto Udders” won best theme in 2010 parade.

  • The 1992 parade included a 52-llama hitch.

  • First Cheese Days King and Queen Werner and Martha Bernet selected in 1980.

  • Monroe Swiss Club

    1978 Swiss ClubThere were once more than 400 members in the Monroe Swiss Club.

  • The Monroe Swiss Singers were established in 1963.

  • The very first Cheese Days prince and princess were selected in 1982.

  • The 2012 festival boasted 100 arts & crafts booths and 130+ entries.

  • Wisconsin Governor Emanuel Philipp attended the festival in 1915.

  • Food, Food and More Food

    Cream PuffThere are 10 individual cheese booths and 25 food booths at Cheese Days

  • 5,586 cheesecakes-on-a-stick were consumed in 2012.

  • Tent rentals set the festival back about $15,000.

  • And porta-potties and dumpsters cost a pretty penny, too: about $6,000 to be exact.

  • Approximately 40,000 pounds of cheese are sold during Cheese Days

  • Moooo!

    Cow Milking ContestAbout 200 people participated in the 2012 cow milking contest.

  • Seven different breeds of dairy cattle are used in the Cow Milking Contest.

  • Badger State Ethanol’s team “The Big Squeeze” won the 2012 Cow Milking Contest.

  • More than 1,300 people took part in the 1988 cheese factory and dairy farm tours.

  • The first dairy cows in Green County came from Ohio.

  • Historic Cheesemaking

    Imobsersteg Cheese FactoryImobersteg Farmstead Cheese Factory has been relocated and restored at the National Historic Cheesemaking Center.

  • Edelweiss Creamery is the only factory in the U.S. to produce Old World, 180-pound wheels of Emmenthaler (Swiss) cheese.

  • More than 50 varieties of cheese are produced in Green County.

  • The “Got Limburger?” line of apparel was introduced in 2008.

  • Today, there are 13 cheesemakers in Green County.

  • Yodelayheehoo!

    SWITZERLAND - SOMMERYodeling was used by herders to call their stock or to communicate between Alpine communities.

  • Brown Swiss cows decked out with flowers and bells lead The Swiss Colony Cheese Day Parade through downtown Monroe.

  • The Cheese Days website was launched in 2004.

  • Dairy Farm Tours returned by popular demand in 2010.

  • In 1990, 35 wrestlers from Switzerland participated in a wrestling tournament

  • 3 – 2 – 1

    Twins my 1st cheese daysCheese Days is a THREE-day event every TWO years for ONE amazing celebration.

  • A dozen finalists competed in the 2012 Cheese Sandwich Contest for Kids.

  • Since 1970, Cheese Days has been held on the third weekend of September in even-numbered years.

Chad Diedrick is the managing producer for the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. In his 12+ years of discovering Wisconsin, Chad has seen virtually every corner of the state. Between filming breaks, you’re likely to catch Chad trying his hand at a round of disc golf at a local course. (His goal is to hit every disc golf course in Wisconsin!) Watch Discover Wisconsin Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block.

You May Also Like…