Around 30,000 people flooded the streets of Ellsworth's East End Park, downtown and Broadway Street June 21 and 22 to participate in activities and chow down on over 5,000 pounds of cheese curds at the 2019 Cheese Curd Festival.
The economic impact is estimated to be in excess of $2.5 million, Kim Beebe from the Executive Support Team at the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce said.
This year's two-day festival drew about the same numbers in the crowd as last year's Beebe said, though there likely may have been more.
"Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone really enjoyed the expanded footprint and noticed and were complimentary of the community's beautification efforts along Broadway Street," Beebe said in an email.
The festival committee planned to accommodate tens of thousands of people or more this year, having streamlined their food truck area and providing multiple cheese curd, beer and live music tents.
Parking looked a little different than last year as yellow school buses ran around town collecting people in designated parking lots at the Ellsworth elementary school and the county courthouse to shuttle them to the festival entrance.
Overflow parking was sent to the Pierce County Fairgrounds for a time on Saturday, Beebe said.
"We hope this continues to grow each year as it really is a convenient way to get to and from the festival. Guests should save their steps for walking around the festival market and along Food Truck Alley," Beebe said.
Operation Broadway St., a volunteer-based clean up and maintenance project which was completed in late May, gave local businesses and artists a chance to display their booths on a neatly organized Broadway Street during the festival.
Those who were at the festival and agreed to have their photo taken for the newspaper said they heard about the event on Facebook and reported positive reviews, saying they would return next year.
Some posted reviews on Cheese Curd Festival's Facebook invitation read:
"Everything was wonderful!! Short lines for all vendors (as well as portapottys)...The jalapeno bacon curds were awesome, please make them available!!" - Diane DeGroot
"Great organization! Amazing Food! The Bands were amazing too! So much variety with vendors!" - Angelina Anderson Wiseman
Some traveled far and wide to Ellsworth to hear about the curd hubbub. Many were from the Minneapolis area to get their fill of cheese curds before the Minnesota State Fair; some who participated in the race early June 22 were from as far as Boston, Mass. and Texas.
One family from Europe who happened to be dairy farmers said they were impressed with the Wisconsin curds.
Anne and her father Helmar Hakvoort from Beemster, North Holland in the Netherlands attended the festival and said they enjoyed the cheese curds. The Hakvoorts are from an area in the Netherlands, near Alkmaar, which is known for its delicious cheese and hosts the Dutch Cheese Market.
Anne has been staying with a Hudson resident, Arlette Hensler, as she completes a 16-week internship. Helmar flew in the night before.
"It just worked out that he came on the weekend of the festival," Anne said.
5k and 10k race results
5k results overall:
• Hunter Jacobson, 12, 21:04
• Mike Bang, 30, Red Wing, 21:25
• Ryan Anne Magliarditi, 41, Plano, Texas, 21:44
10k results overall:
• Nicholas Windschill, 38, St. Paul, 38:11
• Addison Peters, 16, Ellsworth, 38:48
• Wade Bergner, 52, Maiden Rock, 39:57
Cheese curd eating contest results
• Ages 8-11: Levi Lorentz, 2:52
• Ages 12-15: Sam McCulley, 1:27
• Mens: Alex Smrekar, :54
• Womens: Kelly Chies, 1:47
• 2 person relay: Alex Smrekar & Wade Miller, 1:42