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Cheese Rolling: Making America’s Reality TV Stars Seem More Sane

May 2, 2013

That’s the cheese race. Notice how the cheese is long gone and some of the people are upside down.

Yes, you read that correctly. Cheese rolling.  Not eating, not tasting, not making, not even cutting…  this article is about Cheese Rolling.

Every year during England’s Spring Bank Holiday (yes, you read “bank” too), the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake takes place. You wouldn’t think so, but it is a special honor to be selected to roll a cheese at this event. Rollers are mainly part of the local community, near Gloucester in the range of beautiful rolling hills called Cotsowlds.  But it’s not just the locals that want to take part in the cheese rolling festivities – people from all over the world take part in this event.

The competition is pretty unusual.  It’s all about racing a wheel of cheese down a big hill.  There’s falling, there’s stumbling, there’s inadvertant sommersaults, and there’s… well… there’s cheese.

There are a number of races during this event –  five downhill races and four uphill races. Each race might have between two and twenty competitors line up and wait for their race.   there’s a Maypole at the top of the hill, and that’s where the Master of Ceremonies (or emcee) escorts a guest to the starting line, helps them sit on the dangerous slope with an eight pound Double Gloucester Cheese, then let’s the wheel of cheese go.  That’s where the tumbling, bumbling, and stumbling comes in.  This isn’t a smooth, easy hill to run down… this is well let’s just say, if you watch a video of it, lots of people bounce… a lot.

When the cheese is released, and competitors try their hardest to stay upright as they dart down the hill, hurling themselves in pursuit of the cheese. The dangerous dash downhill is about 90 meters from start to finish, but most of the competit

There’s the wheel of cheese on the right, and the Master of Ceremonies on the left. Everyone else seems to have fallen down and gone boom.

se race has always found a way to return.  It’s such a strong tradition now that even though the official organizers have been unable to schedule the event the last three years, the Cheese Rolling Race has taken place anyway.  N

y hand  for the race since 1988.  She’s the only cheese maker in Gloucester that uses old-fashioned, traditional cheese making methods.

Just like the traditional cheese suppliers, there also has to be a traditional Master of Ceremonies.  The emcee is in control of the entire event.   Unbelievably, there have only been six different emcees between 1884 and 2013, and the current one is a local dairy farmer.

Of course, no competition is worth it unless there’s a grand prize – and when the competition involves tumbling head over heels down the side of a hill in pursuit of some cheese, the best grand prize, of course, is The Cheese!

He won, but his cheese seems to have gotten a bit dirty.

We’re just trying to share some of the interesting and strange things we learn about the world around us.  This article is from Miss Lara, who has been traveling with TAP for five years.  She’s our group’s organizer, nursemaid, and mom.  She once fell down in Northern Ireland, however, she’s never won the cheese.  If you are affiliated with Minooka TAP (student,  teacher, parent, family member, or past traveler) and you’d like to submit an article, please email us at Minookatap2@gmail.com

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