Cheese-Chasers Get Ready to Roll

Gloucestershire Cheese-Rolling keeps on rolling

Cheese-chasers are set to, unofficially, roll head over heels for cheese and glory at the annual Cheese-Rolling in Gloucestershire, England, on Monday, June 4.

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Cheesy daredevils have raced after a wheel of Double Gloucester cheese at Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester in the Cotswalds, at noon during the spring Bank Holiday for 200 years. While the Cheese-Rolling festival has been officially called off for the past two years, it is still unofficially held, usually in late May, by cheese enthusiasts. This year’s Cheese-Rolling is slated for June 4 to coincide with the Queen’s Jubilee.

During the Cheese-Rolling, men and women roll down a muddy, steep 200-yard hill after an 8-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese that is handmade by Diana Smart. The four large wheels of cheese for the men’s and women’s races and a small one for the children’s race are made with milk from her herd of Brown Swiss, Holstein, and Gloucester cows.

In the adult races, the first cheese-chaser to tumble and roll to the hill’s bottom and grab the savory cheese wins the cheese and bragging rights. The children's race is a safer jaunt uphill to retrieve the cheese.

The organizers of the Cheese-Rolling have had challenges staging the event in recent years, ranging from poor weather and claims of profiteering to crowd control (15,000 people showed up during the last official Cheese-Rolling in 2009) and health concerns. Each year, a dozen or so Cheese-Rolling competitors are treated for bumps, bruises, sprains, and even spinal injuries at the free event that is open to all who want to win the big cheese.