Cheese lovers will take their cheese as seriously as football fans take the Super Bowl at tonight's World Championship Cheese Contest.
The winner of the 29th biennial contest will be crowned tonight at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wis.
The three-day contest, which began Monday, started with 2,500 entrees judged in 82 cheese and butter categories based on flavor, texture, body and color.
Forty cheese judges from around the world, hailing from 17 nations and 10 states, have whittled the competitors down to the top 16 entrees for tonight's competition. The entries are overseen by veteran USDA dairy grader and chief judge Robert Aschebrock.
The winners will be honored at an awards banquet at the International Cheese Technology Exposition in Milwaukee, Wis., April 12.
A Gruyere cheese made by Cedric Vuille of Kirchberg, Switzerland, won the title of World Cheese Champion at the last competition in 2010. The cheese-maker placed fifth this year in the Gruyere category, won by Baudois Olivier of Le Cerneux-Péquignot, Switzerland.