Pine Island Cheese Festival

101 East Center Street
Pine Island, MN 55963


History of Pine Island Cheese Fest:

In July of 1911 a group of small dairies cooperated to build a Prize Winning World Record 6,000 lb. Cheese on a railroad flatcar.

By 1920 there were 43 cheese plants in the surrounding area.  Half of them combined to form the Minnesota Cheese Producers Association with a large plant in Pine Island.  That plant and its adjoining Butter Factory were located at the far east end of Center Street across from the park.  In 1947 an even larger plant was built two blocks to the North.

One hundred years ago, the biggest cheese in the world was made in Pine Island and put on exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair in September of 1911. Mr. A.W. Parkin of Pine Island was the Minnesota State Inspector of Cheese and Instructor for the Dairy and Food Commission. He decided to bring together the Pine Island area cheese factories to produce the world's largest cheese and bring recognition to the fine cheese factories of this area.  He calculated the cheese output of eighteen local American cheese factories, determined how much of the starter and coloring would be needed by each factory in order to make all of their curds exactly the same.

Pine Island Cheese Festival started in September 1936, and was held annually through 1940 when World War II interrupted. When the festival was reborn in 1949, it was switched to a weekend in June. Since then, the cheese festival has been the opening festival of the summer in southeastern Minnesota.

Organizers in the 1950s would publicize the festival by inviting celebrities. Movie star Fred McMurray bought the festival's first button in 1950, and singer-dancer-comedian Eddie Cantor bought the first festival badge in 1954.

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