CHILTON - An expansion for an award-winning cheesemaker is underway.
LaClare Farms won the Best in Show at the U.S. Cheese Championships a year ago.
Now, the champion cheese may be part of a growing trend in the industry.
The earth is shaking just outside Pipe in Fond du Lac County. LaClare Farms bought 13 acres to build a farmstead dairy. The new plant will feature products made from the milk of 600 goats.
"They'll be able to purchase them on site, have kind of a community where people stop in, grab stuff to go, they'll be able to hang out for five minutes or five hours, enjoy the animals. Kind of make whatever they want to experience of it," said Greg Hedrich, LaClare Farms business manager.
Greg Hedrich's family currently runs LaClare Farms just south of Chilton. Three hundred goats have been producing milk for seven years, but a champion cheese has put his family's farm on the map.
"It helped us go from being strong regionally, to growing to that national level," said Hedrich.
"This is world champion, a couple of years ago," said Vern Knoespel, Vern's Cheese President.
The goat cheese can be found at Vern's Cheese in Chilton. It's part of a growing trend of artisan cheeses.
The Wisconsin Dairy Artisan Network lists 78 members.
National statistics indicate specialty cheese production in Wisconsin has doubled in the last ten years.
It accounts for 22% of the state's total cheese production. That's up 3% from two years ago.
"They all taste like something else, maybe they're close to a monterey jack, or a gouda," said Knoespel.
How about a Fondy-Jack?
"They take some of the recipes and things like that, they put their own spin on it," said Hedrich.
Hedrich says it brings the farm a little closer to the people.
"They want to be connected to that farm where that milk or cheese that they're eating came from," said Hedrich.
And the original items, that are produced.
"From the raw milk, all the way through the finished product. It's a pretty neat feeling to be a part of," said Hedrich.
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Saturday.
The company hopes to have its new factory operating by next summer.
Firefighters are battling a house fire in Kewaunee County.
Wind, snow, cold and ice played a role as firefighters battled a fire in downtown Ripon Wednesday morning.
Outagamie County's second largest employer is expanding, and veterans are encouraged to apply.
The State Building Commission has approved $5 million to help build the Wisconsin Maritime Center of Excellence in Marinette.
Fond du Lac police have released more information about the weapons they found in the apartment of a man who was at the center of a five-hour standoff on Monday.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is announcing a public meeting has been scheduled to provide road closure and design information for the Velp Avenue interchange area.