The word colby is Norse in origin. It’s logical, then, colby cheese is just the kind of cheese that might appeal to the Scandinavian palate I’ve referenced before. Colby cheese is a mild cheese, similar to cheddar (but skips the cheddaring process).
The cheese is celebrated every year with a three-day festival in the city of the same name. Colby, Wisconsin, is found in the heart of the state, off of Highway 29.
If you’ve never been to a rural Wisconsin, small town festival, I will try my best to explain it to you. But truly, you’ll just have to experience one for yourself to determine if it’s something you can appreciate. It’s probably not for everyone. If you are looking for health food, this isn’t your festival. The festival goers will probably know you’re a tourist and might even ask what you’re doing there. They will look at you strangely when you pull out your D-SLR and ask if you can take photos of them deep-frying. (To be fair, they were friendly and some welcomed photos, but some thought I was a bit off). There will be a parade of local princess floats, John Deere machinery, and polka groups. Don’t be alarmed if you see a Miss Some-Nearby-Small-Town wearing a camouflage dress. I would never personally do it, but to each princess her own. There will also be a town coloring contest, a glee club performance (sang the Killers, ha!), a tractor pull (I didn’t really understand the concept before, either, so don’t worry), fair rides, and certainly food.
This woman was my hero for the day. Don’t believe she won, but she was the only woman I saw competing, so we rooted for her.
And as you guessed, in Colby, there will be cheese curds. The way God intended them to be eaten. White and squeaky, the lightly and freshly battered, and fried until beautifully golden. This was almost reason enough to go.
Don’t leave Wisconsin without eating them. Unless you’re a vegan. Or have celiac disease. Or aren’t going to eat a salad as your next meal.
Sure, I’m a sucker for a cheesy festival of any nature, but what really convinced us to make the trip was the opportunity to take part in a World Championship. I’m not kidding. For two dollars, you can say you competed in a world championship of cheese curd throwing. You can’t make this up. Once I heard about this, I had to go. Am I strange? Apparently. We were probably the only to people eagerly awaiting the beginning of the competition. It began with very little fanfare. Despite little fanfare, the winners’ trophies were on display.
I lined up shamelessly among the 11-year-olds holding their parents’ money. I prepared. I asked the 11-year-old behind me for tips. And then the organizer of the event. What were the tips I received? I’m not telling. In case I return next year
Participants are classed according to sex and age and allowed to throw as many curds as they are willing to pay for. Because things were slow going, my sister and I were the only two in our age group for a while. And I went first.
If you look really closely, you can see the white blur in the air. My throw landed in bounce, meaning I was on the board. Correct, folks, I led a world championship. At least for a while.
Sister went next and came close.
Sadly, we had other commitments that evening, so had to leave before the end of the competition. Before the event, I had pictured crowds gathered around cheering for local shot put champions. Nothing of the sort. Which made me feel a little easier about leaving earlier.
I’m certain I didn’t win. My throw wasn’t my best, and the competition was supposed to last for a long time. Some other lady between the ages to 19-40 had to have launched that glorious, round curd farther than I had. I even heard the woman next to me trash talking my distance saying she has “got to be able to beat that one!” Alas, I hope for society’s sake that someone in the group of several hundred people had a better arm.
Like an Olympian without a medal, I went home empty-handed.