Minnesota Cheese Festival

by Ashley Ghilardi

On June 3rd, 2012, we all learned how much Minnesotans love their cheese. The first annual Minnesota Cheese Festival was held in the International Bazaar area of the State Fair Grounds in Falcon Heights, MN.  The event organizers expected 3,000 people all day; over 2,000 showed up in the first hour; 3,400 total people showed up throughout the day. Beat that, Wisconsin!

This wasn’t your typical festival with loud music and fried food on a stick. You would expect to see cheese curds and other delicious concoctions at a cheese festival, but this event drew in a different crowd – a crowd that loves good cheese and expensive wine. Upon arriving to the event, I was handed a Cheese Fest Passport, in which you were supposed to walk up to each booth, try the cheese or wine, and get your passport stamped. This was unsuccessful.

Those first 2,000 hungry cheese heads were unstoppable. City Pages reports that the event organizers did not expect lines. Here is the first thing you see when walking through the gates.

Here are more lines, just for beer.

The main hurdle was, in fact, finding the proper line to be in and actually waiting in it. This is all just for samples. Finally we got to sample some cheese! Here is some Amablu Gorgonzola and Soft White Cheddar.

I also sampled some olive and sunflower oils, dried apricots, and jam spreads. Finally, we realized these samples weren’t curing our hunger and we wandered about to find lunch. There were two food trucks – The Gastrotruck and the Chef Shack. Both trucks served gourmet food, like something you would see in a Top Chef challenge.  Here are my pulled pork tacos from the Chef Shack. They had some sort of chipotle sauce on top, along with mesmerizing pink radish slaw.

My boyfriend, Andy, had a bison burger with two cheeses, onions, spinach and pickled jalepenos, also from the Chef Shack.

Yes, we were still hungry afterward–I am still craving some cheese curds that I thought I was going to enjoy here. Guess I will have to wait until the State Fair!


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