Crankworx isn’t the only thing drawing visitors from across the world to our mountain resort this week. On Saturday August 15, the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival is reeling into town. For those that have yet to see one of the many Youtube videos of cheese rolling, allow me to shed some light on the hilarious and moderately dangerous festivity.
While this is only the 8th year that the cheese festival will be taking place in Canada, the act of cheese rolling has been a long time tradition on Cooper’s Hill in Gloucester, UK. The exact origins of where cheese rolling began are unclear, though it is known that the event has been taking place annually in Gloucester for hundreds of years. The premise of the competition is incredibly simple: an 11-pound wheel of cheese is rolled down a hill and everyone chases after it, enduring falls, scrapes, and tumbles in their attempt to catch the cheese and claim victory.
It is to my knowledge that none of the Canadian cheese rolling participants have sustained any serious injuries thus far. However, this is not the case for the Cooper’s Hill competitors. Given that the hill is almost entirely vertical, the majority of racers that do slip end up tumbling down the entire course. Not only are competitors warned of the possible danger of competing, but spectators are now also given this same warning as one onlooker was seriously injured after being hit by the cheese during the Gloucester competition a few years back.
During my research, I discovered an interesting tidbit of information about the tradition. With the introduction of food rationing during the Second World War in 1941, the ability to produce a full sized cheese for the purpose of entertainment became an impossible task. In order to keep the contest alive and well, the cheese wheel was replaced by a wooden wheel with a small hole inside the packaging that contained a tiny piece of cheese. The wooden wheel was covered in paper and decorated with the familiar red and blue ribbons to resemble the customary cheese wheel. It wasn’t until 1954 that a real cheese was once again used.
We’ve talked a lot about the history of cheese rolling, but this is just a small portion of the many events offered at the Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival. The event will also be hosting a costume contest, cheesy twister, face painting, and a spread of Canadian cheeses to sample and buy. Did I mention that the winners of the cheese rolling competition also win two ski season passes to Whistler Blackcomb?! With so much to gain and not much to lose, I can guarantee you’ll be seeing me dressed up in a bike helmet and pads sprinting down that hill come Saturday.
The Festival will be taking place on Saturday, August 15 at the base of Blackcomb Mountain from 12 – 4 pm.