Blessed are the Cheese Chasers!
U.S. National Cheese Roll Championships
No visit to the Maine Celtic Celebration is complete without experiencing the Cheese Roll Championships on the Common, Sunday, July 16. Whether you come to compete or just witness the Cheese Roll, you are in for an unforgettable time.
Never heard of cheese rolling? In fact, cheese rolling dates back to the 1800s in the U.K. and is now celebrated each year at the “Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake” in the county of Gloucestershire in southwest England (http://www.cheese-rolling.co.uk/). In recent years the competition in Gloucester has been at risk due to controversy about safety and security. But cheese rolling is alive and well at the Maine Celtic Celebration where all are welcome to watch and/or chase cheese.
The Cheese Roll Championships consist of ten races, organized based on age and gender of contestants. Contestants below the age of 18 should register in advance with an adult at the Celtic Celebration “store” located at the bottom of the cheese roll hill on Belfast Common. The number of competitors is unlimited for groups up to age 12. For older folks, the number is limited to ten racers. If more than ten show up to chase the cheese, they will have to race uphill first, and the first ten will be final contestants.
Each race begins with a five-pound wheel of cheese being rolled down the slope on Belfast Common toward the bay. The group will race to catch up with and grab the cheese wheel. The Grand Prize – each cheese wheel – is well worth the downhill plunge. The cheese wheel maker, Cathe Morrill, sponsoring owner of the State of Maine Cheese Company in Rockport (http://www.cheese-me.com), notes, “Each wheel is composed of our customers’ favorite kind of cheese, creamy cheddar cheese. All you can eat, just for chasing it down the slippery slope.” So, for a uniquely hilarious experience as a chaser or spectator, be there on Belfast Common on July 17th for the eleventh annual New World Cheese Roll Championships!