'Curd is the word' thanks to JEM grant
The Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce welcomes cheese-lovers and foodies to enjoy the "Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin" at the annual Cheese Curd Festival. With help from a $13,900 Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, the festival will welcome over 5,000 attendees to sample 2,300 pounds of cheese curds, over 30 craft beers and more than 20 cheese curd food dishes. The 2018 Cheese Curd Festival will take place June 22-23, 2018.
"For 15 years, the Cheese Curd Festival has celebrated the area's important role in the state's cheesemaking history and built on its brand as 'Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin'," said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. "This event gives visitors an opportunity to experience Ellsworth and our agricultural heritage while creating a positive economic impact."
In addition to Ellsworth's famous cheese curds, this year's festival will focus on experiences beyond food. Building off Wisconsin's agricultural history, attendees will have the opportunity to attend an antique tractor show and explore the hay bale playland and corn dig. There will also be live music performances, a 5k & 10k run and a classic car cruise in and show. The event also boasts special tasting events featuring regionally crafted specialties. Corks & Kegs and Crafts & Curds: Paired, offer adult opportunities to try local craft beer, wine and hard cider. The Milk & Cookie Pairing and Ice Cream Tasting events are fun for families.
The festival is anticipated to generate an estimated $241,000 in visitor spending in the area. Grant funds will go towards online and print marketing to attract new attendees from Minnesota and other areas of Wisconsin.
"We're excited for the opportunities this grant provides," said Kim Beebe, a member of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Team. "Our proximately to the Twin Cities makes our community a perfect day trip destination. While a visit to the Cheese Curd Festival is a great time, the event also allows us to show off the unique assets of our community — from agricultural experiences to outdoor recreation — leading to return visits and repeated economic impact."
In 2017, the tourism economy in Wisconsin totaled $20.6 billion, a 3.2 percent increase from 2016. Tourism activity supports 195,255 jobs in Wisconsin, a seven-year addition of more than 23,255 jobs to the state's total employment, an increase of 13.5 percent. Visitors generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenue. Business sales in Pierce County totaled $53.4 billion in 2017, supporting 436 jobs and $3.3 million in state and local taxes.
In fiscal 2017, the Department funded 61 JEM projects, awarding a total of more than $1.1 million. Visitor expenditures driven by the marketing from these projects will exceed $34 million. JEM grant funds are available to non-profit organizations for the promotion of Wisconsin tourism events and destinations. The state can fund up to 75 percent of a project's first-year advertising and marketing costs, and provide support for second- and third-year projects with decreasing amounts for funding until projects become self-sustaining. For information on the JEM Program and application materials, visit http://industry.travelwisconsin.com.
The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the State as the Midwest's premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at: www.travelwisconsin.com.