‘Where’s The Cheese?’ in 102nd Year, Toledo Festival Still Cheesy


Toledo, according to the local Lions Club’s 2023 Cheese Days magazine, is a town with many historic names: Plomondon’s Landing in the 1840s, Warbassport in the 1850s, Cowlitz Landing later that decade and Toledo in the 1870s.

However, after 102 years, the name of Toledo’s annual festival, Cheese Days, remains the same. In the 2023 festival magazine, Toledo resident Jake Morgan writes of the Cowlitz Valley Cheese Association. In 1919, the organization opened a new factory on North Second Street in the South Lewis County community.

Local dairy farmers supplied the factory, which, Morgan writes, produced cheddar and pimento cheese. That year, residents gathered for a celebration with coffee and cheese sandwiches — which are still served at the festival today (they’re made of white bread, cheese and mayonnaise).

Thus began Cheese Days. A fire destroyed the factory in 1945, but organizations managed the festival regardless. It was suspended for one year during World War II, but was otherwise organized by the Lions Club, the Jaycees or the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, according to this year’s magazine.

To celebrate the town’s history, explain the decadeslong lack of local cheese at a festival called “Cheese Days,” and possibly to encourage new cheese businesses, this year’s theme is “Where’s The Cheese?” said Dan Gorton, event organizer. 

During Toledo’s annual “Big Meeting” in March, Gorton said, “I need some help. We need somebody to come to town to sell cheese or make cheese. ‘Cuz people come here to get cheese and, well, the grocery store is there.”

The celebration kicks off on Thursday with a toast to the 2023 Big Cheeses, Toledo’s grand marshals. At 6 p.m. at the Morton Arts Centre on July 6, attendees are welcome to join in the toast. Entry costs $15 per person. 

This year’s Big Cheeses are Don Brenner and Ted and Lexie Trople. Brenner is a Toledo Historical Society member and is a volunteer with the Toledo Community Library. Ted and Lexie Trople are longtime Toledo farmers and community volunteers.

The couple wrote in their Big Cheese profile story: “We have enjoyed our years here on the farm in Toledo with our community and have no desire to ever leave.”

Earning a posthumous Big Cheese honor is Kemp Olson, for whom the city’s park is named. Olson was a business owner, volunteer and 26-year fire chief. He was named Toledo’s Big Cheese during the 1988 Cheese Days, and died the following year. 

The Cheese Days parade will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 8. 

The tennis tournament will be held throughout the weekend beginning on Friday evening. There are mens and womens singles categories and womens, mens and mixed doubles categories for players ages 12 and over of all skill levels. Entry costs $5. Pre-registration is necessary and will still be allowed throughout the week. To sign up, contact Signora Armstrong at 360-864-2594.

All Toledo Cheese Days events are scheduled as follows:


Toledo Cheese Days Schedule

Thursday, July 6, 2023 

Toledo Made

1 to 5 p.m. at Art Gallery 505, 205 Cowlitz St.

Arts, crafts, gifts and products made by folks from the greater Toledo community will be available. For more information, contact Di Morgan at 360-864-4ART or www.artgallery505.com.


Toledo Thursday Market

2 to 6 p.m. by the boat ramp next to the bridge


Cheese Days Kick-Off Celebration

6 p.m. at the Morgan Arts Centre

This Cheese Days launch party will feature music, hors d’oeuvres and a toast to the 2023 Big Cheeses.


Friday, July 7, 2023

27th Annual “Cheddar Open” Golf Tournament 

Registration starts at 9:15 a.m. Shotguns start at 10 a.m. at Newaukum Valley Golf Course

Four-man scramble. Proceeds will go to the Toledo Lions Club. Golf carts must be reserved beforehand. The cost is $70 per person and lunch is provided. Contact Dayle Pomeroy at 360-324-2843.


Toledo Made

1 to 5 p.m. at Art Gallery 505, 205 Cowlitz St.

Arts, crafts, gifts and products made by folks from the greater Toledo community will be available. For more information, contact Di Morgan at 360-864-4ART or www.artgallery505.com.


Tennis Tournament Begins 

3 p.m. at the Toledo High School courts

Anyone 12 years of age and over is welcome to play. Pre-registration forms are available at Betty’s Place or from Signora  Armstrong. Due to scheduling, please pre-register. Balls are furnished. Trophy/Ribbon prize $5 entry per event.

Contact Armstrong at 360-864-2594.


Frog Jumping Contest

6 to 7 p.m. at the Toledo High School football field

One of Toledo Cheese Days’ most iconic events will feature frog jumping races with a cost of $1 per frog. This year, the event is sponsored by Century 21 Lund Realtors.

Frogs are available for rent. First, second and third places will be awarded cash prizes of $15, $10 and $5, respectively. Contact Adam Hackett at 360-508-1764.



6:30 to 9 p.m. at Toledo High School

No limit on bingo cards. Proceeds will go to the Toledo Youth Soccer Club. Hot dogs and concessions will be available. 


Music in the Street

Chris Guenther will play at 8 p.m. on Ramsey Way outside Donna’s Place.


Saturday, July 8, 2023 

Pancake Breakfast 

7 to 10 a.m. at the Toledo Middle School Field 

Breakfast will include pancakes with eggs and sausage or biscuits with gravy and eggs. A minimum donation of $8 is required.


23rd Annual Car and Motorcycle Show

7 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Toledo Middle School Field

Sponsored by the Toledo Lions Club and over 150 local businesses. Download the show application form online at toledolionsclub.org/cheesedays.html. There’s a $20 entry fee per vehicle. Food and assorted vendors will be available at 9 a.m. with awards at 3 p.m.

Sponsored by Bonanza BBQ.


Cheddar Challenge

Registration 6:45 to 7:45 a.m. at the Toledo Fire Station. Race begins at 8 a.m. 

This is a 5k run/walk for all ages sponsored by Toledo Girls Softball. $10 entry, $18 for entry and a shirt. Contact Kristi Marcil at 360-219-3177 for more information.

Library Bake and Book Sale 

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 241 Cowlitz St.


Food and Assorted Vendors

9 a.m. at the Toledo Middle School

See handmade goods and food during the car show.


Toledo Cheese Days Parade 

11 a.m. Parade route starts at Fifth and Augustus, moves east on Augustus to Second, continues south on Second to Oak, then west on Oak to Fifth.

Parade registration is ongoing. Registration forms are available on the Toledo Lions Club website. All parade entries are assigned assembly and dispersal plans. Trophies will be presented to the first and second place winners of each division at the judges booth, located at the Presbyterian Church. 

Shuttle services to and from the high school parking lot will be available.

This statement is from the Toledo Lions Club: “Spectators: Safety is our biggest concern. Please prevent your children from getting too close to the moving vehicles. Drivers of large trucks and other potentially dangerous vehicles have been instructed not to throw candy from their vehicles. Toledo Lions Club Members will monitor the main parade areas to ensure crowd compliance.”


Free Cheese Sandwiches 

Enjoy a free cheese sandwich at the Presbyterian Church after the parade provided by Market Fresh. Cheese sandwiches are made of white bread, mayonnaise and cheese. Inside the church, visitors can see the new stained glass windows.


Toledo Made

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Art Gallery 505, 205 Cowlitz St.

Arts, crafts, gifts and products made by folks from the greater Toledo community. For more information, contact Di Morgan at 360-864-4ART or www.artgallery505.com.



Noon to 5 p.m. at Toledo Market Fresh

For $9.99, meals will include baby-back ribs, corn on the cob, potato salad, beans, rolls and soda. Sponsored by Toledo Market Fresh, which can be reached at 360-864-2161.


Toledo Fire Department Open House

12:30 p.m. at the Toledo Fire Department

Cooling station, kids activities, meet a firefighter.


Community Auction 

1 p.m. at the Toledo Middle School Field

Handcrafted and corporately-sponsored items will be available.


Wine and Cheese Tasting Garden 

4 to 8 p.m. at Steamboat Landing, 115 Ramsey Way

“Where’s the cheese? It’s here,” wrote the event organizers in this year’s event calendar.

Taste local wines, beers, ciders and cheeses for Vision:Toledo’s main fundraiser. Contact Matt Wheeler at 512-426-6543.


Music in the Street

8 p.m. at Ramsey Way outside Donna’s Place

Chris Gunther and his band will perform at 9 p.m. at Chimi’s Restaurant followed by Backlash.


Sunday, July 9, 2023

Horseshoe Tournament

Sign up at 8 a.m., play begins at 8:30 a.m. at Kemp Olson Toledo Community Park

Beginner, amateur and advanced classes with prizes in each for a $5 entry fee. Contact Stan Spears at 360-864-2096 for more information.


All-Class Reunion 

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kemp Olson Toledo Community Park


Toledo Lions Club Beef BBQ, Beef Auction and Pie Auction

12 p.m. at Kemp Olson Toledo Community Park 

On the menu for this meal are barbecue beef, baked beans, coleslaw, garlic bread, watermelon and beverages. Bring your own chair. Cost is $8 for adults and $7 for children and seniors. 

2:30 p.m. Beef auction 

3 p.m. 17th Annual Pie Auction

According to the Lions Club: “The Toledo Volunteer EMS and Firefighters Association has baked some of the most delicious pies to ever grace our green earth, and they’re all up for auction.” Proceeds benefit the Toledo Volunteer EMS and Firefighters Association.