Friday, March 5, 2010

Cheesedays, Monroe, Wisconsin

We wanted to share this exciting news with you! Hope you all can come to Cheese Days in Monroe on September 17, 18 and 19 this fall. It should be fun. Take care!

Janice and Dennis


March 3, 2010

Contact: Noreen Rueckert, Cheese Days Coordinator, 608.325.7771,


The history page on the Green County Cheese Days website is full of facts. On the timeline are various noteworthy events, famous firsts, and names of those who have served as parade marshals, contest winners, and royalty. But it is the unofficial and previously unpublished history of the festival from 1976 that tells the story of this year’s Cheese Days King and Queen.

For many years, the banks in Monroe took turns hosting a VIP and dignitary reception prior to the big parade on Sunday. In 1976, a young male employee at Commercial and Savings Bank (now Wisconsin Community Bank) was happily enjoying the complimentary wine when one of the young ladies serving as a Cheese Days co-queen (now known as ambassador) noticed he was not wearing one of the commemorative festival buttons. Call it fate or just simple Cheese Days luck, but she knew it was her job to make sure he got a button pinned to his shirt.

The bank employee and the queen both recall that the parade was nearly rained out a few hours after they met, but the sun came out almost immediately afterwards. Their story together is definitely proof of a sunny ending, as by the following festival they were engaged to be married. Now 34 years later, Dennis and Janice (Wettach) Everson have been selected to represent the festival as this year’s Green County Cheese Days King and Queen.

Cheesemaking is an important part of Janice Wettach’s family traditions. Her grandparents, John and Clara Rechsteiner, operated the Mud Branch Cheese Factory near Argyle. Her mother, Helen, who resides in Monticello, was a “cheese queen” for a June Dairy Month celebration in Mt. Horeb back in 1938.

Janice’s 100% Swiss heritage is also a proud part of the family history. Janice’s maternal and paternal grandparents emigrated from the canton of Appenzell in Switzerland and often spoke the Swiss language, particularly when adults had conversations not intended for children’s ears. The youngest of three children in the family, Janice was nicknamed “the klie” (translated from Swiss – “the little one”), and her family was active in the Old World Swiss Club. Janice works as a registered nurse at Monroe Clinic in the rheumatology department.

Monroe’s Wisconsin Community Bank has had a number of name changes since it was known as Commercial Saving Bank, and Dennis Everson has been an employee at the location since 1975. Throughout his tenure at the bank, he helped with financing numerous cheesemaking operations in the Green County area. Dennis has seen many changes take place in the cheesemaking industry. Among the most notable are the transition from basic varieties to specialty and artisan cheeses, technology and automation in the cheese plants, and computer programs that guarantee consistency in production.

During the festival, Dennis will overlook his Norwegian heritage. “I’ll be a Wettach for the weekend,” he jokes. His mother, Joan, resides in Monroe.

Throughout the years, Dennis and Janice have had many ties to various aspects of the Cheese Days festival. Janice has served on the ambassador selection committee. Dennis co-chaired the festival several times, and served as both president and treasurer for several terms each. Both are experienced at the Cow Milking Contest, and both have “done time” working at the Monroe Optimist Club deep-fried cheese curd booth. Their niece Lindsay (Wettach) Brockert was an ambassador in 2002, and niece Wendy Flanagan is the artist responsible for this year’s button design.

The couple has two children who have also been involved with the festival. “They’ve grown up with it, it has been part of their lives,” says Janice, of their sons, Erik and Kyle. As boy scouts, they rose early in the morning to help with clean up of the festival grounds around the downtown square. They often appeared in the Children’s Parade, and both were candidates in the Prince and Princess Contest. Erik is currently attending the University of Wyoming where he is working toward his doctorate in Geophysics, and Kyle is currently attending dental school at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

The Everson family’s involvement with Cheese Days did not always go smoothly. When bank president Jack Kundert suggested that his employee, Dennis, serve as chairperson of the Cheese Days raffle, the raffle committee selected a car as grand prize. Shortly after the committee purchased the soon to be infamous 1978 Ford Pinto, the news broke that the Pinto had a tendency to explode in rear-end collisions. Sales were far less than brisk, but by Saturday of the festival the car was paid off. Dennis drove it in the parade on Sunday (thankfully with no incident), and the tickets sold netted a small profit that final day.

The Eversons are currently involved in many other community activities, including the local literacy council, Monroe Arts Center, and Grace Lutheran Church; and boy scouts and the YMCA board in the past.

“We love Cheese Days, we always have, and this is like coming full circle,” said Janice of their royal appointment. Both Dennis and Janice are looking forward to celebrating with family and friends, sharing the fun with festival attendees, and adding new stories to the personal history they share with the oldest and best food fest in the Midwest.


Freely Living Life said...

YAY for CHEESE and YAY for Wisconsin! I am craving my home state right about now......:)