The Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival, which dates to 1988 in this southeast Outagamie County community, will be held this weekend in Doyle Park at the intersection of Park and Van Buren streets.
On Friday, June 8, the park will open at 6 p.m. Attractions on the opening evening will include the carnival amusements, food stands, vendor booths and golf chipping. Half Empty, a local multiple award-winning cover band, will perform at 8 p.m.
The festival's Saturday, June 9 schedule starts with the 10:25 a.m. takeoff for the one-mile, family-friendly Cheddar Cheese walk/run to the park. The traditional parade will follow immediately.
When the park opens at 11 a.m., the day's activities and attractions will include magic shows, distribution of free balloons, a petting zoo, children's games and golf chipping, along with the carnival, food stands and vendor booths. Musical entertainment for Saturday starts at12:30 p.m. with the Homemade Brew band from Kaukauna, followed in the late afternoon by the area band Cool Waters and at night by the internationally-known Vic Ferrari band.
From noon to 3 p.m., Mad Dog and Merrill will demonstrate the grilling of several types of food and share samples with festival attendees. A cheese curd eating contest will be staged at 3:30 p.m.
Cheese carving, with a "Wisconsin Under Water" theme this year, is an attraction from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Master carver Troy Landwehr will be joined by familiar festival carvers Kristi Krieski and her twin daughters Anna and Ashley of Reedsburg and her nephews Joey and Jeremy Vosters, along with Outagamie County government executive Tom Nelson, Lindsay Fenlon and Richard Blumenstein. As indicated by the theme, the cheese carvers will be fashioning fish, turtles, frogs, toads and other amphibians.
Another major attraction at the festival is the free sampling of dozens of varieties of cheese donated by companies in the dairy production and distribution sector. This popular event is conducted from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday. Wine tasting is also offered at the same time on both days.
On Sunday, June 8, the activities begin with a breakfast at the Little Chute Civic Center at 8 a.m. The park then opens at 11 a.m. A cheesecake-making contest with amateur and professional divisions (the entry deadline has already passed) will be held at 12:30 p.m.
Musical entertainment for the day begins at noon with a performance by the Little Chute Community Band, followed by the Nashville Pipeline band from Appleton at 1:30 p.m. The other attractions and activities also continue until late afternoon Sunday.
Admission fees Friday and Saturday are $5 for age 13 and above and $3 for age 4-12. There is no admission charge Sunday.
During its history, the festival has raised $1,051,730 that has been distributed to the village government for public facility improvements and to other beneficiaries. This includes $67,682 from the 2013 event, which marked the 25th anniversary of the festival. Those numbers do not include the earnings by the area's nonprofit organizations, which operate the food stands.