Latest cheese champion puts small Wis. town on map
THORP, Wis. (AP) — The Clark County town of Colby holds a claim to fame as the place where Colby cheese was created in 1885. But now cheese lovers have another famous Wisconsin destination to visit: the nearby town of Thorp, the hometown of the nation’s newest top cheesemaker.
Marieke Penterman won the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Green Bay this week when her Marieke Mature Gouda cheese took top honors out of a field of 1,702 entrants from around the country.
Her family already had planned to build a 100-acre farm and creamery, with viewing windows where tourists would watch the 300 cows being milked. Now city officials hope her big win will make Thorp, a town of 1,600 residents about 40 miles east of Eau Claire, more of a tourist destination, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Penterman’s champion cheese is a smooth nutty Gouda. Her other cheeses include a special Gouda made with sweet red wine that she named Thorp cheese, which won a silver medal in Wednesday’s contest.
“We’re in cheese heaven now,” said Penterman, whose total haul included four gold medals, three silvers, a bronze and four fourth-place finishes in addition to the championship trophy. “I still cannot come up with words that describe the feeling.”
Thorp City Administrator Randy Reeg said he was thrilled for Penterman’s win, and added that the region also would benefit. He said having a champion Gouda along with a second-place cheese named for Thorp would help attract attention to the area.
“Everybody’s always looking for the magic bullet called economic development,” Reeg said.