World Championship Cheese contest to return in 2022

Wisconsin State Farmer
Judges hold up the second runner-up cheese in the World Championship Cheese Contest, Lutjewiinkel Noord Hollandse Gouda from the Netherlands, on March 5, 2020, in Madison.

The World Championship Cheese Contest, scheduled for February 2021 in Madison, has been postponed until March 2022 because of COVID-19 concerns, citing "welfare of its judges, industry volunteers and devoted attendees."

Instead of holding the contest, the Wisconsin Cheese Making Association will host online programming the first week of March 2021 to promote cheese making and "celebrate industry success." The contest has continued to showcase the best in international and domestic cheese making for over 60 years.

"Contest leadership and our industry Contest Committee studied options for a 2021 event, interviewed judges and companies that support our contests with volunteers, and concluded that the industry would be best served by pausing the upcoming World Championship Cheese Contest until March 2022," said Jim Mueller, contest chief judge.

In the 2020 contest, Wisconsin cheesemakers lived up to its long standing reputation by winning more awards than any other state or country. In total, Wisconsin cheesemakers, butter and yogurt makers claimed 31% of all awards from 48 Wisconsin cheese and dairy companies.

While they didn't win championship cheese honors, three Wisconsin cheeses earned a spot in the contest’s top 20: Roth Buttermilk Gorgonzola, Marieke Gouda Smoked Cumin and Maple Leaf English Hollow Cheddar.

A gruyere from Switzerland was named the world’s best cheese in last year’s contest, chosen from a record number of entrants from 26 nations.

The contest is now scheduled for Mar. 1-3, 2022, at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison. The United States Championship Cheese Contest is scheduled to follow a year later February 21-22, 2023.

"We look forward to carrying on the mission of our Championship Cheese Contests in March 2021 with online opportunities that illuminate the art of cheese evaluation and reflect the positive energy and promotional punch of these admired events," said Kirsten Strohmenger, contest event manager for WCMA.