We all know Wisconsin is America’s Dairyland, and that our state produces a good chunk of the nation’s cheese supply, but there may be a few things you didn’t know about Wisconsin cheese. Read on for some cheesy facts and dairy-themed trip ideas.
1. There are over 1,000,000 cows in Wisconsin. That’s one cow for every five Wisconsin residents! Places like Mulberry Lane Farm in Sherwood allow visitors to get a hands-on dairy farm experience by taking a turn milking and learning fun cow facts! Bring a picnic along and enjoy a whole day of animal petting, hayrides and making memories.
2. Speaking of milking cows, 90 percent of Wisconsin milk is made into cheese. That’s more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese per year. Tour a cheese factory and witness the cheese making process yourself. Head to Marieke Gouda in Thorp for self-guided tours, or call ahead for guided tours of cheese making, the parlor area and the barn. Explore even more cheese factory tours with the tastiest gift shops.
3. While cheese making itself is an art, there are also people who literally turn cheese into a piece of art. Join in the fun at The Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival that features a parade, food, music, free cheese tasting and, yes, a cheese carving demonstration.
4. Cheese curds are the freshest form of cheddar. In the cheese making process, the curds separate from the whey, and once the whey is drained from the vats, the cheese curds are what remain. Go straight to the source in the Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin at Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery.
5. The average American consumes 27 pounds of cheese per year. Do you think Wisconsinites raised the average? Stock up on cheese at one of Wisconsin’s many cheese shops, like Union Star Cheese Factory or Weyauwega Star Dairy.
Take it one step further and stay in a former cheese factory! Seven Acre Dairy Company in Paoli has been reimagined into a boutique hotel and micro-dairy on the banks of the Sugar River. With a restaurant that spotlights local farms as well as a counter service café offering soft serve ice cream in fun flavors like wild rice, this is definitely as Wisconsin as it gets.
6. One of Americans’ favorite ways of consuming cheese is Mac & Cheese, and if anyone knows how to do Mac & Cheese right, it’s Wisconsin. Find some delicious Wisconsin-made macaroni and cheese at Grate in Menomonee Falls, which works with Renard’s Cheese and Sassy Cow Creamery to produce its many varieties of this classic American dish.
7. Wisconsin produces 600 varieties of cheese, which is more than double the amount of cheese the runner-up state, California, produces. A great place to sample different kinds of cheeses? Farmers’ Markets. Check out the Dane County Farmers’ Market, and stop at every cheese booth. Trust us…it’s necessary.
Bonus: Wisconsin is also known for a different kind of cheese carving — the “cheese head”. Did you know the first cheese head was carved out of a couch cushion? Sport your cheese head on your next trip to Lambeau, and then stop by Scray Cheese Factory & Shoppe for some cheesy souvenirs.
Keep the cheesy fun going and discover Wisconsin’s top fried cheese curds!