The cheese goes on: Our favorite SXSW day party becomes a Zoom bash
For the past few years, the most-buzzed about day party at South by Southwest has not been hosted by a band or a big tech company. For lactose-tolerant fest-goers, Cheeselandia, the massive dairy extravaganza hosted by Wisconsin Cheese, has been the place to brie (sorry).
As the festival went online this year, so did the cheese bash. At 2 p.m. Thursday, a group of about 500 cheese lovers across the country logged onto a fun-filled 40-minute Zoom session that included games, celebrity pop-ins and a virtual hang with actor and comedian Nick Offerman.
While we each noshed on a trio of cheeses that were mailed out earlier in the week, we learned that Offerman has been spending his pandemic days hanging out in nature and backyard birding with his wife, actress Megan Mulally. In true Ron Swanson fashion, he’s also been learning how to smoke meats and recently made a ukulele in his wood shop.
Offerman took audience questions, mixed it up with Marieke Penterman, a Wisconsin cheese maker, and gregariously engaged in cheesy chat.
The event was tightly structured with an impressive amount of interactivity.
“We’re always finding new and innovative ways to personalize experiences and engage with cheese lovers across the country,” Suzanne Fanning, CMO of Wisconsin Cheese, said in a statement. Fanning said her group quizzed participants on their interests and then partnered with the video-sharing site Cameo to put together a list of celebrities to cheese around with attendees.
Apple’s Steve Wozniak, Nsync’s Joey Fatone and actress Andrea Barber (“Full House”) dropped by at the top of the session. Later, there was a Toby-off between actors Paul Lieberstein (Toby from “The Office”) and Chris Sullivan (Toby from “This Is Us”) and an ‘80s movies flashback with Sean Astin from “The Goonies” and Ernie Hudson from “Ghostbusters.”
Using a pop-up poll attendees were able to select an artist to play the event out. LeeAnn Rimes edged out saxophonist Kenny G and drag queen Kasha Davis and the country crooner brought the event to a suitably cheesy close.