This was the question National Milk Producers Federation coordinators Jamie Jonker and Miquela Hanselman set out to answer – and their solutions were cheese-tastic, to say the least. Judging conducted from multiple locations, donated storage spaces and smaller cheese blocks played their role – as did continual ingenuity from a team determined not to let a pandemic upend a cherished dairy tradition.
“I think it’s important that while we are in strange and unique times because of the pandemic, that some things still continue to happen as normal course of order,” said Jonker, NMPF’s staff scientist and a 16-year veteran of the competition. “The most rewarding part is that, unless we told people about how we did it, most people wouldn’t understand that it was any different from other years. And I think that’s a testament to the great team that we’ve got at National Milk, our cheese judges, and our co-ops that enter the cheese every year for really making it seem like nothing was different, even though everything was different.”