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A big cheese weekend in Wisconsin

June 6, 1997
Web posted at: 12:03 a.m. EDT (0403 GMT)

(CNN) -- Forget martinis ... how about some milk? The big cheese of Little Chute, Wisconsin are headed to a "dairy social" Friday night to kick off a weekend of cheddar, Muenster, Havarti, Swiss, Gouda and Jack.

The village is hosting its annual Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival through Sunday. This creme de la creme of dairy fests offers more than just a Brie-for-all of cheese chomping.

In addition to a Model Your Own Milk Mustache Contest, the festival delights dairy-lovers with a Celebrity Cheese Curds-Eating Contest, in which local celebs race to devour a half-pound of cheese curds. ("It's rather filling," comments Donna Koebe, a festival board member.)

Local chefs and 4-H members choose to compete artistically, rather than gastrointestinally. They each carve 40 pounds of mild cheddar into a sculpture such as a farmhouse, a cow, or a company logo.

For those who like to have their cake, and eat cheese too, there is a Cheesecake Contest. Koebe estimates 40 to 60 cheesecakes are entered each year. But the competition may be stiffer among the judges than the desserts.

"[People] volunteer like crazy for that one. When they love cheesecake, they'll do anything to be a judge," says Koebe.

Luckily, the audience wins too -- After the top three cheesecakes are chosen, all the cheesecakes get divvied up and sold for a dollar a slice.

No Wisconsin event would be complete without "cheeseheads," those cheese-wedge-shaped hats made famous by Greenbay Packers' fans, and the Great Wisconsin Cheese Fest has one of the most dedicated cheeseheads of them all -- a man who survived a plane crash because his foam hat cushioned the blow. Koebe says he now works for the company that makes the hats, and he's grand marshall of the festival parade.

For more information on the Great Wisconsin Cheese Festival, call (414) 788-7390.

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