B2B & B2C Marketing

The Art of Pulling Off a Festival

Experiential Marketing

Our client, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, asked us to assist in the planning, programming, staffing, staging and execution of 26 events spread out over 3 days and 13 locations to support the inaugural Art of Cheese Festival.

Art of Cheese Event Schedule

Strategy: Keeping it Cheesy, but not Cheezy

This gathering wasn’t titled Wisco Cheese Fest or Beer, Cheese & Bratzpalooza. It was called the Art of Cheese Festival because making the best cheese in the world is truly an art form. It was to be a celebration of artisanal, award-winning Wisconsin Cheese, so it had to be a classy affair (still with a bit of whimsy) made for foodies and industry pros—a fall festival in one of the most beautiful cities in the Midwest.

This was also a rare mix of B2B, B2C and B2B2C marketing, where consumers rubbed elbows with cheesemakers and retail cheese sellers. We were catering to the whole community, the whole ecosystem of Wisconsin Cheese, and the messaging had to speak to that entire gamut.

Execution: Having a Ball

There were day-long excursions that toured many of the award-winning cheesemaking facilities around the Southern part of the state, including a trip through the beautiful bluffs of the Driftless region that Frank Lloyd Wright (and many of his buildings) called home.

  • Overhead View of Excursion to Seven Acre Dairy
  • People Around the Table at Seven Acre Dairy
  • Tour at Roth Cheese
  • Cheese Sample Trays at Roth Cheese
  • Chef cooking at the Art of Cooking with Cheese Class
  • Cheese tray at the Art of Cooking with Cheese Class
  • Art of Cheese Flag leading the Cheese Crawl
  • Beer and cheese tasting at the Cheese Crawl
  • Welcoming excursion attendees to Chalet
  • Bubbles & Brunch at Graze
  • Bubbles & Brunch at Graze
  • Attendees outside at the Bourbon and Cheese event
  • Bourbon barrels and samples

Classes were held to teach folks sophisticated tips for entertaining or enjoying cheese at home, like how to make the ultimate cheese board or pair cheeses with chocolate, wine or cocktails.

  • Attendees at the Art of Wine and Cheese
  • Wine and cheese pairing at the Art of Wine and Cheese
  • The Art of the Cheese Board class
  • Entrance to the Art of the Cheese Board class
  • Art of the Cheese Board supplies for attendees
  • Attendees mingling
  • Attendees at the Art of Cocktails and Cheese class
  • Pairings at the Art of Coffee, Chocolate & Cheese class

Cheese Fair Off the Square took over a street in downtown Madison and acted as a natural extension of the very popular Dane County Farmer’s Market. Patrons enjoyed live music, sampled to their palate’s content, and could meet and buy from some of the expert cheesemakers in the state.

Ellsworth Block, a beautiful event space on the Capitol Square, served as Art of Cheese Festival Headquarters. It was a hub for VIPs, press, and event ticketholders where they could stop by to rest, grab a cocktail, shop festival merch and watch a live recording of the Heritage Radio Network podcast.

  • Door at Art of Cheese Festival Headquarters
  • Signage: This Whey Up to Art of Cheese
  • Stairway at Art of Cheese Festival Headquarters
  • Display wall at Art of Cheese Festival Headquarters
  • Art of Cheese Festival merchandise for sale
  • Podcast recording at Art of Cheese Festival Headquarters

Then, Sunday morning, the yogis among us woke up for Cheese Yoga and offered Swiss salutations on the waterfront of beautiful Lake Monona. Others enjoyed a Bubbles & Cheese Brunch before they traveled back home.

  • Attendees at Swiss Salutations Yoga
  • Yoga attendees by the lake view
  • Swiss Salutations Yoga pose
  • Brunch after Swiss Salutations Yoga class

But the highlight of the weekend

…the star of the show, the fanciest thing at the festival was the Wisconsin Cheese Ball, an opulent, enchanting evening where 500 cheesemakers and cheese lovers mingled and made merry underneath a giant disco ball of cheese. Attendees enjoyed themed cocktails, saddled up to a cheese bar, and took a culinary tour of the finest cheeses from all around the state.

From the giant cheeseboard stage, emcee Justin Warner of Food Network fame took us through the night’s activities, including a Royal Cheese Court honoring a lineup of notable cheesemakers from around the state.

  • Justin Warner, emcee at Wisconsin Cheese Ball
  • Royal Cheese Court of Wisconsin Cheesemakers
  • Justin Warner with Royal Cheese Court at Wisconsin Cheese Ball
  • Justin Warner, emcee at Wisconsin Cheese Ball


With multiple events trekking across the region, having to support an entire festival being built from scratch as this was the very first one and needing to live up to an iconic brand like Wisconsin Cheese…this was all quite an undertaking. Thankfully, it couldn’t have gone any cheddar. The cheesemakers it honored were clearly touched that an entire festival was thrown to celebrate their life’s work. The thousands of cheese enthusiasts that attended couldn’t help but have a great time as they learned about, paired, ate and took home a ton of Wisconsin Cheese. The client was happy, as well…

“Your team put in an incredible amount of time, talent and passion to make the weekend so successful. Bravo!”

—Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Additionally, local cheese shops reported that sales increased by nearly 50% during the weekend, and this particular shop owner enjoyed the festival as a whole…

“I cannot count the times chills ran through my body during the Art of Cheese Festival. The attention to detail and the overall branding was top-notch.”

This was a fun one, and we’re proud of the work.

Do you have a giant project on the horizon that seems overwhelming and that you absolutely have to get right? A new product launch that stands to define the company or an important trade show where you’d like to get noticed in a way that elevates but still suits your brand? Or are you looking to create an unforgettable experience like the one above, one that turns your customers into enthusiasts?

Let’s have a chat.