Russell Smith of Australia, left, and John Jaeggi of Madison prepare to sample one of the entries in the Smear Ripened Semi-soft Cheese category during the opening day of the World Championship Cheese Contest at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wis. on Monday, March 5, 2012. More than 2,500 entries will be judged throughout the three day gathering, sponsored every two years by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, John Hart )
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — As expected, cheesemakers from the U.S. and Switzerland are dominating the World Championship Cheese Contest in Madison.
Judges will crown a champion Wednesday evening from a field of 16 finalists.
Seven finalists are from the U.S. — five from Wisconsin and one each from Utah and Vermont.
Five other finalists are from Switzerland, which has produced champions in each of the last three contests.
The Netherlands has two finalists, and Canada and Spain each have one.
The final 16 are chosen from the gold-medal winners in each of 82 cheese and butter categories. Thirty of the winners were from Wisconsin.
The finals are usually a low-key affair, but interest in cheese has grown so much in recent years that organizers sold tickets for the first time. All 400 tickets sold out.