We caught Rueben at his desk catching up on emails. Keep up the good work, Rueben!

Please join us in welcoming Rueben Nilsson to the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery team. Rueben joins us as our Menomonie Director of Operations. He comes to us with 15 years of cheese production experience having previously worked for Caves of Faribault-Prairie Farms Dairy and The Lone Grazer Creamery.

Rueben’s focus is on keeping the Menomonie facility running efficiently. Most of his day is spent checking on production processes and working with the plant’s department heads to address issues and head off any problems before they happen. Being a new plant, there’s a fair amount of troubleshooting that takes place each day.

“I feel like I’ve reverted to learning instead of being an expert,” says Rueben as he comments on his time working in Menomonie. “I’m working with different cheeses, equipment, and cheesemaking tools than at any of my previous jobs, which means new challenges every day. It’s been exciting.”

Another important part of Rueben’s role is forward planning. He is continually evaluating and planning for how best to increase production and add additional efficiencies all while keeping quality high. His goal is ensuring the plant is achieving its full potential and poised to meet future demand for the products made there.

“We’re thrilled to have Rueben and his years of expertise in artisan cheesemaking join us,” says Paul Bauer. “His experience will be an asset to our senior management team, and he will be a great addition to the Menomonie community.”

We’re looking forward to seeing Rueben’s continued growth and contributions in his career with ECC!

Special thanks to WEDC for this amazing photo that perfectly captures the excitement of the event.

Yep, we sure know how to throw a party alright!  In July we officially celebrated the opening of our Menomonie store. It was a 4-day celebration that did not disappoint!

John Freeman, our Director of Sales & Retail Stores, kicked off the festivities and introduced Paul Bauer, CEO who thanked the many people who played a role in making this new facility possible. Several special guests also attended to mark the momentous occasion. Among them were Mayor Randy Knaack, City of Menomonie, Secretary Missy Hughes, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and Secretary Randy Romanski, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. Each shared what the facility meant to their organizations. If you missed attending the ceremony, you can view it here.

The Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce then officially welcomed us to their chamber family with a ribbon cutting—confetti cannons and all! Everyone in attendance took part. How exciting! You can relive the ribbon cutting here.

We then welcomed everyone into the store for tastings and shopping, which continued throughout the weekend. People came from across the region to celebrate with us and our staff was busy helping customers and stocking inventory throughout the event. The viewing windows were particularly busy as guests watch and commented on the cheesemaking process taking place there.

Guesses for how many people joined us throughout the entire event vary widely. At times lines to the checkouts extended way into the store! However, we can report that during the event we processed over 1,400 transactions (of course our actual guest count is much more as most people came as families and in groups). We sold nearly 600 pizzas, over 100 boats of fried cheese curds, over 200 single scoop cones, and almost 700 pounds of our world-famous Natural cheese curds! All in one weekend–Wowza!

If you’ve yet to visit our new store, we invite you to plan a road trip! Be sure to introduce yourselves to the staff when you do.

Our entire team wishes to thank you for your support of this important initiative. You’ve made an important contribution to our industry and left a lasting legacy to the next generation of farmer owners and cheesemakers.

We caught the eye of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association when the marketing team at Burnett Dairy sent out a #curdcatchchallenge via social media. Challenge accepted!

Burnett Dairy’s crew managed a curd catch from 15 feet in their cheese store! Not to be outdone, Reegan Spriggle from our sales team launched a curd from the rooftop of the ECC corporate headquarters in Ellsworth, which was then caught in the mouth of John Freeman, Sales Manager.

Who was the winner of the challenge? You be the judge.

Watch the Burnett Dairy video that kicked off the challenge.

Now, watch this amazing curd feat by you Ellsworth Cooperative Cheese Curd team!

The American Cheese Society (ACS) held its annual conference in Portland, OR last month. One of the highlights of the event each year is the contest for the best cheeses in the Americas.

The American Cheese Society Judging and Competition, the largest event of its kind for American-made cheeses, actually took place in May. The competition was held separately from the Conference for the first time this year.

According to a Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin news release, an impressive 28 Wisconsin cheese and dairy companies received awards demonstrating the depth and breadth of Wisconsin Dairy. The ACS awarded a total of 433 awards including 139 gold medals, 143 silver medals and 151 bronze medals. The 2022 event received nearly 1400 entries in 120 categories.

Despite the tough competition, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery did bring home a medal. In the Flavored Cheeses, Butter, and Cultured Dairy Products category under Cheese Curds with Flavor Added (all milks), our Natural Ranch Cheese Curds took first place!

Congratulations to you and our entire organization on the big win!

Pictured are Reegan Spriggle and Hillary Perrone from our Sales team and Reuben Nilsson, Director of Operations, Menomonie.

At Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, our team members are more than employees; they are like family. This culture has contributed to the longevity of our staff, whose careers with us often span decades. See our most recent Commitment to Craft acknowledgements.

August, 2022

Congratulations on 5 years, Scott Tulloch!

Scott Tulloch- 5 Years of Service

July, 2022

Wow, a decade of service. Thank you, Lucas!

Lucas Huggett – 10 Years of Service
Dan Boley – 5 Years of Service
Chelsey Thompson  – 1 Year of Service

June, 2022

Congratulations on 15 years with us, Dan Daleiden!

Dan Daleiden – 15 years of service
Emily Maier – 5 years of service
Bryce Harris – 1 year of service

May, 2022

John Geister retired this month after a 50 year career with Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery. A great BIG congratulations and happy retirement!

Bill Ray – 25 years
Lisa Radkey – 15 years
Reegan Spriggle – 1 year
John Cormican – 1 year
Nathan Seipel – 1 year
Bradley Frier – 1 year

April, 2022

Congratulations to Carol Fletcher on a combined 30 years with Wohlt and Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery!

Rob Landis – 15 years
Carol Fletcher – 30 years

March, 2022

40 years of service is quite the milestone and in April we had two team members celebrating. Congratulations to Chuck Kreye and Marc Johnson!

Peter Elwood – 1 year of service
Brandon Bee – 5 years of service
Sarah Richardson – 5 years of service
Chuck Kreye – 40 years of service
Marc Johnson – 40 years of service

February, 2022
Brent Hove – 20 years
Danny McNamara – 5 years
Cassie Hewitt – 1 year

January, 2022

Not many can boast a 45-year career with the same organization. Congratulations to Brian Thalacker. We wish him all the best in retirement.

Tyler Schulz – 1 Year of Service
Robbin Randall – 1 Year of Service
Mark Peterson – 5 years of service
Brian Thalacker – 45 years of service

Join us as we officially celebrate the opening of our new retail store in Menomonie, WI!

Menomonie Store Grand Opening Event
July 14, 2022-July 17, 2022

The celebration kicks off on Thursday, July 14 at 4pm with a Ribbon Cutting by the Menomonie Area Chamber of Commerce. The festivities then continue through the weekend!

Join us for in-store specials, food samples, tastings, food trucks, giveaways, and more! Enter to win a Traeger grill, Brewer’s game tickets, and many more great prizes.

Everyone is invited–We hope to see you!

Each summer Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery gives enthusiastic college students the opportunity to put their education to good use and learn new skills through our summer internship program. The program is also a way for us to cover staff vacations, complete special projects, and build relationships with potential candidates who could fill key positions within our organization in the future. Yes, many of our interns embarked on careers with us after college graduation!

Meet this year’s interns…

Bailee Aisenbrey

Bailee comes on board as a quality assurance intern in our lab with her supervisor Emily Maier. Bailee had previously worked in the barrel room and wanted to take her knowledge of working on the floor to an internship. This made her especially interested in our internship program and how different departments impact production.

Bailee states, “On an average day I take sanitation swabs and check the cleanliness of production areas. Throughout the week, I take different kinds of swabs and samples. They are either plated or prepared to be sent out.” She also looks forward to visiting each plant because of how different the process is at each and the variety of learning each location has to offer.

Bailee will be going into her senior year at UW- River Falls where she is majoring in Food Science and Technology with a minor in Ag Business. She expresses that working closely with mentors has been essential to her learning. “Being able to ask questions and receive feedback has helped me learn about quality and production.” Bailee plans to stay in the Dairy industry and continue in Quality Assurance in her future career.

Roslind Anderson

Roslind is interning as our Production Supervisor, working with Jarrod Luther. She is studying Dairy Science (Farm Management) with a minor in Food Processing Technology at UW- River Falls and will graduate in the spring of 2023.

Roslind has been working at Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery since December of 2018. She originally started in the retail store excited to share her knowledge of being a dairy farmer with customers. From there she went to light packaging on holidays, then finally to the production floor.

“Growing up on a dairy farm, I always knew that I wanted to have a career in the dairy industry. Working for Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery has shown me a different side of the industry and guided me towards my future.”

“I’m a versatile employee and a fast-paced learner. I have been able to use these skills as a supervisor, understanding how to solve problems in a timely manner. For each mentor I have had, I learned new things. Each one has a different supervisory style and demonstrates different qualities, which has helped me find my own style.”

Roslind plans to continue her career in dairy production as she enjoys working in the manufacturing industry.

Sam Erickson

Sam chose Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery for his internship because, “Dairy is a huge part of our world today and any chance to help it stay running and thrive is something I want to be a part of,” he states.

Sam grew up 20 minutes away from the creamery which sparked his interest early on. His internship in the Health, Safety, & Environmental department has exposed him to a variety of projects. Some of his day-to-day tasks have him in production areas overviewing safety measures and contacting people for information such as lab results or quotes. “I like the variety the position offers whether it’s map-making or running around on my feet all day, it’s a great time.”

Sam is studying Conservation with a minor in Ag Business at UW- River Falls and after this summer he will be completing his senior year. “Ethan Hofland is my mentor, he has shown me the entirety of both Ellsworth and Menomonie locations for production and wastewater. He also gives me insight into the inner workings of his tasks and operations going on inside the plant. He is great at working through issues and explaining his steps piece by piece, so safe to say I would be lost without him.”

Jordan O’Connor

Jordan comes to the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery as a fresh face. As our Hospitality & Marketing intern, Jordan has been working on a wide array of marketing tasks and spending some time in the retail stores. Some of her projects include product promotions, website updates, and preparing for the Menomonie official grand opening!

Jordan is the intern of John Freeman, Sr. Director of Sales/Marketing/Retail, and she states, “I have been able to learn more than I could imagine, every day. I have been allowed to take the lead on retail events, marketing projects, and product promotions. John has been extremely helpful and patient with all my questions and guides me in directions to best succeed.”

As her internship comes to an end, she will be continuing into her junior year at UW- River Falls majoring in Business Administration- Management. In her spare time, you can catch her on the UWRF Women’s hockey team playing goalie. “I am thrilled to be working for Ellsworth Creamery and I am confident that my skills and future career will be greatly benefited from this opportunity.”

The fryers are packed away as another marathon Dairy Month has come to an end. Each weekend in June teams from Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery attended Dairy Breakfasts and other events where they deep-fried and served up cheese curds to attendees.  Were you among them?

Attending these events take a lot of work and coordination. Through all weather conditions, teams hit the road—sometimes in the early morning hours—to ensure the fryers are set up and the oil is hot so cheese curds can be served up to guests as the event begins. They make it look easy, mixing up the secret Fry Krisp beer batter, and frying up tens of pounds of curds at each event, all while answering questions and holding conversations with attendees. Then there’s the clean-up at the end and the packing away of the equipment so it’s ready for the following weekend’s event.

The month-long dairy celebration culminated with the Cheese Curd Festival, which took place in Ellsworth on the last weekend in June. 25,000 cheese curd fans attended the event, sampling various cheese curd foods served up by 20 food vendors and ice cream, milk, and cheeses during the various tasting events. The most popular vendor of the event is Cheese Curd Central where festival guests purchase boats of deep-fried curds in three flavors—Natural, Cinnamon Sugar, and a specialty flavor, which for this year’s event was Pizza! One highlight was a visit from Twin Cities Live’s, Kristin Haubrich, who broadcasted live from the festival. Kristin got a lesson in cheese curd frying from our own Dean Hines and Shane Bamman. Needless, to say, they were a hit!

We know how precious weekends are, and we thank our staff for giving up theirs to promote Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery and our products through these events. Please join us in thanking the staff who commit themselves to show up with a smile every weekend in June for Dairy Month events. Their participation exemplifies their passion for dairy and our products.

 

We’re counting the days until the Cheese Curd Festival on June 24-25! We’re thrilled to be working with the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce and community members to bring the event back in its pre-pandemic glory!

Each year the festival serves as one of our main marketing campaigns. The event offers amazing exposure for our product and Wisconsin’s cheese industry. Of course cheese curds are the starring food, but there’s also a real dairy ice cream tasting, milk & cookie pairing, and a Block Party where attendees can taste a variety of Wisconsin cheeses all with a unique “claim to fame”! These and other events are designed to create engagement with our target market, share new products, and build our brand awareness.

We work to give attendees cheese curd flavors and options they can’t find anywhere else. Each food vendor serves up at least 2 unique cheese curd dishes. Cheese Curd Central is where the deep-fried cheese curds are found. In addition to natural cheese curds, we deep fry a different specialty flavor each year. This year we chose Pizza Cheese Curds–it was our 2020 flavor selection that never truly received the exposure it should have. Another Cheese Curd Festival exclusive are deep-fried cinnamon sugar curds. They’re like a mini-donut and have grown quite a following!

In addition to the food, there’s live entertainment, a classic car show, 5K/10K Cheese Curd Run, Cheese Curd Eating Contest, and more! We sure throw one heck of a cheese curd party–Come and join us for a good time, and to satisfy your cheese curd cravings.

Cheese Curd Festival
Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery and Ellsworth’s East End Park
Friday, June 24, 4pm-10pm
Saturday, June 25, 10am-10pm

Below are some quick-links to all the festival details:

Parking: Trust us when we say, use the shuttle service. It’s so easy and convenient! The shuttle buses make continuous routes and will get you to and from the festival grounds in minutes.

Schedule: From entertainment to tasting events, here’s the entire schedule at a glance!

Entertainment: Check out this entertainment lineup!

Tasting Events: Tickets can be purchased at the event (unless the events sell out). Pre-event ticket purchases are available for some events if you want to be guaranteed a spot.

Dairy Month is around the corner and we wanted to be sure you had all the details for the various dairy celebrations taking place throughout the region in June. Mark these dates on your calendar and plan to take part! You’ll see our team at each of the following events frying up the cheese curds everyone loves so much. Be sure to stop by and see us!

Barron County Dairy Breakfast
Saturday, June 4
6am -11am
Rainbow Valley Dairy Farm
1532 6 1/2 Street
Almena, WI

Pepin County Town & Country Dairy Breakfast
Saturday, June 11
6:30am-11am
Auth Farms
W7623 County Road Z
Arkansaw, WI

Dunn County Dairy Breakfast
Saturday, June 11
7am-11am
Breezy Haven Farms
N12021 1010th Street
Bloomer, WI 54724

Showdown in Curdtown
Saturday, June 11
6pm-11pm
Pierce County Fairgrounds
Ellsworth, WI

Wabasha County Night on the Farm
Thursday, June 16
5pm-8pm
Yoder Farm

Goodhue County Dairy Breakfast
Friday, June 17
7am-11am
Farm of Casey O’Reilly
33456 200th Ave
Red Wing, MN

Pierce County Dairy Breakfast
Saturday, June 18
8am-12pm
Mann Valley Farm
129 S. Glover Road
River Falls, WI

Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival
Friday, June 24, 4pm-10pm
Saturday, June 25, 10am-10pm
East End Park
Ellsworth, WI

Buffalo County Dairy Breakfast
Saturday, June 25
(Location yet to be announced)