One thing a traveler won’t see is a moat surrounding this castle. The cool windy air blows the flags in a northerly direction as the ‘KEEP’ casts a shadow down on the entrance. Two black chains attached above and on either side of the main entryway curve down to meet the top of the drawbridge. As I approach the stone structure, the sliding glass doors open. The cold chill my body feels is immediately replaced with the warmth of being inside the Great Room.
Inside the walls of this fortress made of 20,227 concrete blocks, I do not find a King presiding over his people or knights donning their armor and shields ready to go into battle. There is no princess with her long hair and three-piece gown walking with her entourage to be found. Warming my hands in my pockets, I walk towards the ‘KEEP’. Lining the walls of the dominate feature of this castle are hundreds of bottles of wine standing at attention. “Well this would be fitting for a king,” I say to myself as bottles of the nectar of the gods stare me down.
A mysterious force tries to keep me trapped in this glorious room, but I find the strength to move on. Weaving through the displays on the floor, I enter the bakery where my nose picks up the scent of fresh bread. “Hmmm, wine and bread,” I say, “This is getting better and better.” After a few sniffs of the fresh aroma of this famous cheese bread, I turn around to continue my exploration inside the kingdom.
In the distance, a gathering is taking place in the barroom. Walking towards the revelry, I am feeling at ease and welcome. “I will head in there later,” I say softly to myself. In time, the festivities of the main gathering room will be calling me. Turning towards the front of the Great Room, it’s time to visit the area of the castle that places this historic landmark on the national map – the cheese room.
Standing at the entrance leading into the cheese and sausage deli is Isabella the Holstein cow. I will soon learn that she is adored and loved by all. Knowing this, I feel it is safe to say, Isabella is royalty. I tap her head and admire her posture while looking at the wooden barrel standing on end with a display of Tuxford & Tebbutt’s genuine mature Irish cheddar cheese. Picking up a toothpick, I stab the soft and creamy cube and place it in my mouth. Surveying the room, I see multiple barrels strategically in place displaying various cheeses ready to delight my palate.
With the toothpick lingering in my mouth I gaze around to see refrigeration cases stocked full of hundreds of varieties of cheeses. From mild cheddars to sharp provolone, cheeses in the shape of a glass of beer, a cow and a castle, I understand why The Mars Cheese Castle is a Wisconsin landmark.