Belfast, Maine’s unique cheese roll competition at the Celtic festival
Noted to be the only cheese roll competition in the USA. The Belfast cheese roll is full of fun, festivity and 15 minutes of fame. Photo by Ramona du Houx
All photos and article by Ramona du Houx
The New World Cheese Roll Championship, was showcased at the Seventh Annual Maine Celtic Celebration in Belfast on July 21, 2013.
“Many of us are dedicated to chasing our cheese, and the New World Cheese Roll Championship right here in Belfast is a metaphoric event that characterizes our historic quest for justice and scrumptious cheese,” said Bob MacGregor, presiding over the all-volunteer Maine Celtic Celebration Board of Directors.
The Cheese Roll began with a three-pound wheel of cheese rolled down the slope on Belfast Common toward the bay. Each group raced to catch up with and grab their cheese wheel. The spirited winner in each group got to keep the cheese.
Cathe Morrill, sponsoring owner of the phenomenal State of Maine Cheese Company in Rockport, www.cheese-me.com said, “The cheese wheels will still be enclosed in natural rind, impervious to penetration by any substance. Once the cheese wheel is won by someone and the rind is removed, there will be three full pounds of rich and yummy -48 ounces – cheese to consume.”
Cheese rolling enjoys a complex history going back to at least the 1800s in the U.K. Today the annual Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and held near Gloucester in the county of Gloucestershire in Southwest England. That’s a much steeper slope.
There used to be a similar tradition, much less frequently maintained, down the side of a coombe known as the Horse’s Manger on the White Horse of Uffington, Berkshire, England. A cartwheel was chased with a cheese as the prize.
Cheese Rolling has become an annual event in Stilton, England and every May Day hundreds of villagers and visitors make their way to the main street to watch the teams battling for the honor of being called the ‘Stilton Cheese Rolling Champions’.