National cheese competition starts in Milwaukee _ and it's bigger than ever

The largest cheese, butter and yogurt competition in the nation has started in Milwaukee — and it's bigger than ever.

The United States Championship Cheese Contest kicked off Tuesday with a record 1,885 entries from 28 states.

Judges will taste, sniff and inspect entries through Wednesday, with the final round Thursday night.

Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association executive director John Umhoefer (um-HAY-fer) says the number of entries reflects a 10 percent increase from the last national event in 2013.

There's also more than 100 new cheeses this year, many of them flavored. For instance, 110 cheeses include peppers, a 42 percent increase over 2013. Flavored gouda entries also doubled to 26 entries.

Wisconsin's cheese association also hosts an international competition. The national and international events are held in alternating years.