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Cheese Days - One Hundred

Green County celebrates the granddaddy of Midwest food fests this September 19-21 in downtown Monroe - with 100 years of cheesemaking, dairy farming and Swiss traditions.

Cheesemaking began here in 1846 when Swiss immigrants purchased a few dozen dairy cows and herded them from Ohio to New Glarus in Wisconsin.  By 1873, the locals were churning out wedges, blocks and wheels of American, Limburger, and Swiss cheese.  Today you'll find more than 50 varieties.

Back in 1914, some aspiring entrepreneurs in downtown Monroe were looking for a way to attract visitors and boost business.  After a visit to Sauerkraut Day in Forreston, Illinois - they came home inspired, with visions of cheese curds dancing in their heads.  The first Cheese Day was planned  in just 19 days.  Despite the lack of Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging, nearly 4,000 people arrived by train, horse-drawn rig, and roadster.  More than 13,000 cheese sandwiches were served.  According to the local newspaper, "merrymakers in heavy wraps and overcoats danced in the street to band music all afternoon."

After some stops and starts (War!  Great Depression!  Ten-Year Hiatus!)  the festival became a three-day, every-other year event in 1970.  Today, more than 100,000 revelers descend on Monroe to polka and yodel, eat cheese by the truckload, and party - literally - 'til the cows go home. 

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