Looking for some cheesy good fun?
The Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival is back, this Saturday, Aug. 16. The premise is simple. An 11-pound wheel of Canadian cheese is rolled down a hill near the base Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler. Dozens of competitors – in protective helmets and sometimes ridiculous costumes – chase after it, slipping, tripping and flipping their way down the slope.
Competitive cheese rolling traces its roots to Gloucestershire, England, where aficionados have been chasing cheese wheels down Cooper’s Hill for centuries. The Whistler version got its start in 2008 and has been getting bigger – and wackier – every year. This year’s event includes a $500 gift card for best costume, plus a grand prize of two season ski passes for the winner who nabs the wheel of Courtenay Cheddar.
Not ready to risk life and limb chasing a piece of cheddar? Other events cater to the armchair cheese athletes among us. There’s cheese bowling, where you roll your cheese through a challenging obstacle course and cheesy Twister, too, where the coloured circles are replaced by cheese wheels. Cheese tastings, seminars and kids activities, including a safer, uphill cheese race, round out the festival.
The event is actually part of a nationwide cheese rolling circuit sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. It’s taking place during Whistler’s annual Crankworx Festival, a 10-day mountain bike competition where athletes from around face off in freeriding, downhill, enduro and other events. Cheese rolling is just one of many sidelights at the festival, including a concert series, photo exhibitions and plenty of parties.
Ready to put your cheddar to the test? Cheese rollers can register for the event starting at 11 a.m. on Aug. 16 at Base 2 of Blackcomb Mountain. Registration is free but only a limited number of spots are available and, if past years are any indication, lots of crazy cheese heads will be lined up to throw themselves down the mountain. According to the official website, “participants are encouraged to bring their own protective gear.”
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