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A Beer and Cheese Extravaganza on the Shores of Lake Michigan

Whether you're looking for stunning views of the Lake Michigan lakefront or historic districts packed with unique shops and restaurants, Kenosha is one of the top destinations to visit in Wisconsin.The city is home to the Jelly Belly Visitors Center, and Dinosaur Discovery Museum, plus it's only 10 miles North of Six Flags Great America. The lakeshore area has everything from rides on restored electric streetcars from the early 1900’s to a variety of public parks and beaches, making it a top attraction for tourists.


Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival has been the leading beer themed event in the area since 2008. It will take place April 22nd at Kenosha’s Historic Brat Stop, located about seven miles west of downtown. The event will feature beer samples from over 50 breweries, including Kenosha’s own Public Craft Brewing CO. Four craft beer societies will also be in attendance, and individual home brewers will compete to have their beer sold at local breweries. Cheese is always a factor in Wisconsin, and this event is no different. From garlic and dill infused cheese curds to Muenster, patrons will have the opportunity to sample them all. The event was founded to support the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha, and since its inception has raised more than $310,000 for afterschool programs in the community. We got the opportunity to interview Jackie Schmit, Resource Development Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha, to learn more about this great celebration.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

JS: The Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival began in 2008. This year is unique as we are celebrating a Decade of Dairy State! The event annually draws 1,100 participants to Kenosha’s Historic Brat Stop location. This event is for anyone 21+. It's a great place to meet up with family and friends to sample the most sought after beers from Wisconsin and beyond. VIP participants have an area designated exclusively with unique beers, access to the event an hour before general admission and a food buffet. Our beer festival is unique in the fact we do not have punch cards that limit the participant's choices on their samples.


Tickets are $45 in advance and can be purchased online at the Dairy State Cheese and Beer Festival Website. VIP Tickets are $75 in advance and include everything that General Admission receives, plus one-hour early entry to the event, buffet lunch during the event, commemorative mug, specialty beers that are not available in general area, and a specialty cheese.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event.

JS: Attendees at the Dairy State Beer and Cheese Festival can expect to have a great time at the World’s Famous Legendary Brat Stop Venue. Participants have access to samples from over 50 breweries including local Kenosha Breweries (Public Craft Brewing CO., Rustic Road Brewery and R’Noggin Brewing Company) as well as, four local home brew societies. There is a section dedicated solely to home brews, competing to be voted the Best Home Brew for an opportunity to have their beer sold at the local brewing companies. The event features three stages of live music: Random Maxx will be at the Parkway Chateau Stage, 89 Mojo will be at the Brat Stop Stage, and Jeff Stevens will play an acoustic piece in the Wisconsin Room.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

JS: Several local hotels are providing special event rates that include general admission tickets and shuttle directly from the hotel to the Dairy State Cheese and Beer Festival! They also offer opportunities to upgrade to VIP for only $30 per ticket. Visit our website for participating hotels. When the festival is over, there is plenty to do in Downtown Kenosha from visiting the lakefront to shopping and visiting an array of locally-owned restaurants, shops, and galleries.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

JS: The Dairy State Cheese and Beer Festival is a fundraiser that was created to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. Over $310,000 has been raised to support afterschool programs since the first event in 2008. The committee is made up of local community leaders and business owners. The event sponsors are local businesses that also volunteer during the event to pour the beer samples. We do draw business to the local economy as many participants come from Illinois or beyond, stay in the hotels, and visit local businesses and restaurants during the entire weekend. Last year, our event was the meeting point for two lifelong friends, one who lives in California and the other who lives in Florida. They used the event as a girl’s weekend and had never been to Wisconsin before!


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

JS: You'll feel like you’ve lived in Wisconsin your whole life after experiencing four hours at our festival. Participants are free to sample as much cheese as they would like. Being in Wisconsin, cheese is a way of life! The variety of cheeses offered continues to grow each year, and if you find a type of cheese you enjoy, there will be plenty on hand to purchase. Hungry for more than cheese? Brat Stop has you covered! Step over into their restaurant, and you can buy a legendary brat while still enjoying the live music. There is also a Beer Stein Hosting Competition, 50/50 Raffle, and commemorative merchandise such as Cheese Heads and Beer Schwings available during the event.

For more information about the Dairy State Beer and Cheese Festival, please visit the event website.