When struck with a cheese craving, Whitney McChane used to turn her sights toward Wisconsin. It wasn’t until the budding cheese connoisseur began to explore co-ops and cheese shops across Minnesota that she came to appreciate the skill and diversity of cheese artisans in her own backyard. In Faribault, she sampled cheeses aged in sandstone caves and in Mankato, she shook hands with the Alemar Cheese Company’s organic, creamy camembert. “People love artisan cheeses but are shocked to learn we have a cheese-making community here producing world-class cheeses,” she says.
Now, Ms. McChane unites those artisanal cheese aficionados—makers and mongers alike—for one day of gustatory exploration. In addition to sampling a clattering of cheeses, visitors can glean inspiration from recipe demos, cheese-pairing workshops, and roundtable discussions with cartoon mice. Additionally, local food trucks will dole out cheese-inspired dishes. The festival even includes a cheese-wrapping competition, wherein competitors skillfully enfold morsels with flavor-preserving Formaticum cheese paper. Ultimately, Ms. McChane hopes the festival will raise awareness of local cheese culture. “We have so many thriving dairy farms here,” says Ms. McChane. "And where there’s great milk, there’s great cheese."