New Year's Eve celebrations include many WI agricultural products

Michelle Stangler
A giant metal wedge of Sartori BellaVitano® Gold towers high above onlookers at a New Year's Eve celebration in Plymouth, Wis. The wedge will drop 100 feet at 10 p.m. to help welcome in the new year.

From cheese to cherries, community celebrations will shine the spotlight on Wisconsin products as they bid goodbye to 2022 and welcome the new year. Similar to the ball dropping in Times Square in New York City, all eyes will be on these Wisconsin commodities.

As America’s Dairyland and the number one cheese producing state at 3.47 billion pounds in 2021, Wisconsin is well known for not only the cheese on your burger, but many specialty cheeses as well. With over 1,200 licensed cheesemakers in the state who produce over 600 varieties, types and styles of cheese, there is much to choose from.

On New Year's Eve, this top commodity will be the focal point in Plymouth, Wis. known as the "Cheese Capitol of the World" during the annual “cheese drop.” For families including Kerrylynn Kraemer’s, it’s a reminder of the community's roots and how much it has grown.

“It reiterates that this is what Plymouth is made out of, like how Milwaukee is known for their beer, so we are known for our cheese,” said Kraemer, administrative assistant of the Plymouth Arts Center.

CNN considers the 16th Annual Sartori Cheese Drop event as one of the quirkiest New Year’s Eve traditions. The celebration joins other celebrations across the country including a blueberry drop in North Carolina and a pinecone drop in Arizona.

“The Plymouth Arts Center initiated this popular New Year’s event back in 2007 to pay tribute to Plymouth's cheese heritage and its thriving industry that exists today,” said executive director of the Plymouth’s Arts Center, Donna Hahn. The history dates back to 1918 when the price of cheese in the USA was determined at the Wisconsin Cheese Exchange in downtown Plymouth.

The giant wedge of Sartori BellaVitano® Gold will drop 100 feet at 10 p.m. and will also include gift bags of Satori Cheese for the first 250 families in attendance. A cheese tasting table will also be at the event in addition to live music. The event has drawn thousands as the community comes together to welcome in the new year.

While millions will be watching the New Year’s Eve ball in New York drop, these celebrations in Wisconsin are one way to keep costs low, especially for a large family.

Kraemer has been attending the event since it first began, and her husband and children (which now number 12) embrace it as a tradition to reflect upon the prior year, and as a way to celebrate the new year.

“It brings the community together,” said Kramer adding, “it’s very unique for a city this small to have something like this."

The upcoming Sister Bay extravaganza is modeled after a nine-year-old cherry ball drop in Traverse City, Michigan, another bountiful orchard region directly across Lake Michigan.

Cherry Drop

Another event includes the dropping of a gigantic cherry in Sister Bay. The Lodge Cherry Drop will include a 300-pound, 6-foot-diameter, metal cherry hoisted over 150 feet in the air over a business. The giant cherry drop includes other festivities with fireworks, music and outdoor activities. 

Door County produces 95% of all tart cherries in Wisconsin, according to Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom. In 2021, Wisconsin produced 10.5 million pounds of tart cherries and was among other top producing states including Michigan at 96.6 million pounds, then 33.4 million pounds in Utah, according to Statista.