Pearl Valley Cheese of Coshocton County will be hosting the 2017 Ohio State Fair’s Cheese Competition. The family owned business has been making cheese since 1928 and is particularly known for its award winning Swiss cheese.

The cheese company has taken part in the Ohio State Fair’s Cheese Competitions for many years since it started producing cheeses. Pearl Valley has continually received recognition for its products. In 2016, it took second place in the Rindless Swiss Cheese division and first place in the Other Swiss Types division.

“We like participating in the Fair because of the rich history and tradition of the cheese competition at the Fair,” said Kurt Ellis, the quality manager at Pearl Valley Cheese. He is hoping that the Pearl Valley Swiss Cheese will receive the Grand Champion Rosette at this year’s Fair.

“Ohio is the largest producer of Swiss cheese in the country, so winning the Ohio State Fair for Swiss cheese gives it some special distinction,” said Ellis. The company is looking forward to hosting the competition on July 11 at 10 am at its facilities in Fresno, Ohio.

“We just finished a major expansion at our factory this spring so we have some extra space that works out perfect for hosting the cheese contests,” said Ellis. All of the cheese entries must be submitted to Pearl Valley Cheese in plain bags so the judges are unbiased. Many of the Swiss cheese entries come in 200 pound blocks and have to be delivered to the competition site.

“The exciting part of the competition for us cheesemakers is cutting the cheese blocks at the contest,” said Ellis. For Swiss cheese, Pearl Valley’s specialty, the makers will not know the hole formation until the cheese is cut open.

Ellis noted that the competition is fun because of the number of people that get to see the cheese on display. After the judging is completed at Pearl Valley Cheese, all of the entries will be taken to the Ohio State Fair on July 20 and will remain on display throughout the duration of the Fair.

“It will be a fun day and we enjoy having interactions with other Ohio cheesemakers,” said Ellis. He continued, “We really appreciate all the work the Fair does to support and promote the dairy industry in our state.”

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