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Cheese Days moves to 2021
Another Cheese Days is planned for 2022 as well, to keep the even-year festival tradition.
cheese days logo 2020

MONROE — Judy Meier has been hearing the question multiple times per day from those around her, all wondering if Cheese Days, the popular festival held every other year in Monroe and slated for Sept. 18-20, was still on. 

The Cheese Days board president has finally spoken: the event is canceled. 

However, the announcement came with a bit of good news — they’ve moved the event to 2021, deviating from traditional even years, instead of waiting four years to hold it again. The next Cheese Days will be held Sept. 17-19, 2021. 

The global pandemic due to the COVID-19 virus has canceled nearly every event planned for the summer including Summerfest, World Dairy Expo and the Wisconsin State Fair. 

“It’s something we didn’t want to cancel because of all of the people that come to Cheese Days and enjoy it,” Meier said. “On the other hand — that’s exactly why we had to cancel.”

The 12-person Cheese Days board unanimously agreed to cancel the event at its meeting June 9 and agreed to hold the festival in 2021 — and will possibly even refer to it as “Cheese Days 2020 in 2021,” Meier said. 

Meier has served as the board’s president for a year and a half but has been on the board for about seven years. She and her husband have run the tractor show committee for about two decades. 

She said the group met monthly and when the news of COVID-19 and requirements for social distancing came, they met via teleconference. Ultimately, after listening to each of the board member’s thoughts and concerns, she said the decision to cancel was inevitable. 

“I wanted everyone to have a voice in the decision,” she said.

Green County Director of Tourism Noreen Rueckert said the major consideration was “a lot of uncertainty.” 

“I think the board made a really responsible decision,” she said. “It’s hard to eat cheese and drink beer with a mask on.”

Rueckert said having an abbreviated version of the festival wasn’t a good idea because of what festival goers have come to expect. When weather cooperates, although there’s never been an official count — tens of thousands make their way to Monroe to enjoy live music, carnival rides and all kinds of food to celebrate Green County’s roots. 

Volunteers were also a factor; they’re a huge part of the festival, Rueckert said. Once the group counted more than 600 helpers in different capacities. Without them, the event would have a hard time moving forward. 

“I think we’ll all come out stronger on the other end,” Rueckert said.

Cheese Day began as a one-day annual event in 1914 but the schedule has been modified several times throughout history. The 1918 festival was preempted due to World War I. An extended break from 1928 through 1935 coincided with the Great Depression. A 10-year hiatus took place from 1955 to 1965. The festival has been an every other year tradition since 1970. 

“With the longevity of the festival, we’ve faced hiccups here and there and this is another one,” Rueckert said. “I was happy with the board not waiting until 2022 — it gives us all something to look forward to.”

Meier said the plan is to hold the event again in 2022 to keep the even-year festival tradition. 

“It’s a lot of work; we need a lot of volunteers,” Meier said. “Our plan is to end up on the even years again.”

The decision to cancel removes worries over last-minute changes and public health, Meier said. The board hopes most expenses will transfer to the 2021 event.

“Everyone’s disappointment has been hard,” Meier said. But, “everybody’s been understanding. We’re all in the same boat.” 

Sponsors who have already pledged or donated for 2020 will be contacted and given the option to transfer their financial support directly to the 2021 event. Entertainers and contractors will be asked to rebook for 2021. Any fees already collected from vendors will be returned. Updated vendor applications (Commercial and Maker’s Market) will be posted to by Aug. 1.