Behind-The-Scenes At The World Cheese Contest

The World Championship Cheese Contest kicks off March 5 at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison. But the work leading up to this week has been going on since around January.

Randy Swensen, Director of Quality & Grading at Wisconsin Aging & Grading (WAG) Cheese, has been working with the World Championship Cheese Contest for more than 20 years. As the Director of Contest Logistics, he spends much of his time in the weeks before the event at WOW Logistics’ warehouse in Little Chute. This is where he leads the effort to receive and categorize the entries.

He takes Mid-West Farm Report behind the scenes:

In January, WOW Logistics in Little Chute started making room for the 3,302 contest entries. These included cheese, butter, yogurt, and more dairy products. In early February, the first entries start rolling in – literally. The largest entries are 200-lb wheels of Swiss and Gruyere. 

The entries are coming from 25 countries and 32 states via plane, truck, or mail. Once they get to WOW Logistics, the team starts sorting them across the 142 classes. 

Every entry is treated like the winner. The warehouse’s refrigeration system ensures that the products are at the correct temperature and humidity. After all, this is precious cargo!

The cheese also gets a label for the contest so that once in Madison, volunteers can quickly find the products in the refrigerated trucks and bring them to the judges’ tables inside the Convention Center.

This week, three semis are bringing the entries to Madison.