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Cheese All That!

September 11, 2011

There are tourist ‘must-dos.’ If you find yourself in Cooperstown, you visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. In Rome, you should see the Colosseum. Visiting Amsterdam, you do…the things you can do in Amsterdam. I have been in southwestern England for nine days now, and one of the biggest Things To Do here is attend the Frome Cheese Show.

As an American seeing England for the first time and staying with future in-laws, I am getting into the habit of mustering somewhat extreme amounts of enthusiasm for any activity that is suggested. Drive down three-foot-wide country lanes at breakneck speeds? Sure! Meet grandparents-in-law-to-be while jetlagging so hard that I’ve forgotten my fiancée’s name and have my bra on backwards? That sounds GREAT! Try some haggis? PLEASE, SIR, MAY I HAVE SOME MORE?!

Thus, when the Cheese Show idea was proposed, I jumped on it like Roman Polanski would a pre-teen delivery girl. I expected to see, well…cheese. Perhaps cheese paraphernalia. What I did not expect to see was a massive display of gorgeous animals, hundreds of arts and crafts, stunt equestrian performances and English riding displays, proper English gentlemen complaining loudly that others cheated by dying their sheep pink, Oriental noodles, Jack Russell terrier races, photography competitions and freakin’ adorable pygmy goats.

Ewë and I

The Alleged Cheaters

Most of the animals on display and in the competitions were also family pets, no matter how large. These beasts were clearly beloved by their owners, who ranged in age from the Justin Beiber fans to the Lawrence Welk crowd.

Potential Beiber Fan

Grandma with Grandpa

Proud Papa

There was horse poop everywhere. Cute little Shetland ponies, thoroughbreds being put through proper English riding paces and jumps, and massive Andalusians carrying hottie stunt riders who had been in Eragon (and trained the Omani Royal Cavalry) all relieved themselves frequently.

English Rider with Stick Up Bum

The Rockin' Horse Show

My favorite of the chicken, duck, rabbit, guinea pig and hay display was the Cher-circa-1974 hen.

Squawkin' in Memphis

My first mother-in-law wanted a yacht and a boob job. My second (and last)-to-be wants a goat. Look at them – can you blame her? (To be fair, she probably wouldn’t turn down a yacht.)

Kid Rock

After 90 minutes, we got to the cheese. If you ever wonder how to constipate an entire town, bring them to sample these.

A Dairy Tale

Cheesus, Take the Wheel

Without doubt, the best part of the show was the fact that it involved the entire region and everyone was having a wonderful time, in spite of the uncooperative weather and the poo-stink on everyone’s shoes. The children and adults were incredibly proud of their contributions and it showed. These competitors weren’t Texas cheerleader mothers or Toddlers and Tiaras, they were a community being brought together by the pride and pageantry of it all. They love their way of life, and while it is a society that is almost completely foreign to me as an American city-dweller, their joy was infectious. I had a fantastic time.

The Union Snack

Nap, Interrupted

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