Cheese Days Returns to Toledo for the 100th Time


Proximity to a river. A tight-knit community. Good barbecues. Several churches. All of these attributes are shared by many Lewis County communities. 

So, what sets Toledo apart?

No other city in the county has frog jumping competitions, free cheese sandwiches or a parade with grand marshals titled “Big Cheeses.” It’s Cheese Days. And this weekend, Cheese Days is back for the 100th time.

After its cancelation last year due to COVID-19, having Cheese Days back in Toledo is indescribably meaningful for the community, according to eight-year Cheese Days committee member Cyndi Philbrook. 

“It’s just really amazing how excited people are in our community to have Cheese Days, it was super hard when we didn’t have it. People were really upset. It was the right thing to do, but it was hard,” she said.

She added that young people who moved away often come back for the festivities, making the event a big reunion for locals. 

“It’s just a great gathering of Toledo,” Phillbrook said.

The committee spent several months uncertain if Cheese Days would be held this year, so they didn’t plan something different to celebrate the 100th iteration. Luckily, the event lineup is always jam-packed full of celebration anyways. New this year will be the performance of the Winlock Dance Center before the parade. 

Subtractions to the usual schedule are the Saturday morning breakfast at the senior center and the tennis tournament. The senior center is still closed, and the Toledo High School tennis courts are unavailable. Both events will return for future Cheese Days celebrations. 

The classic car and motorcycle show is the most popular event, according to Philbrook. Around 300 vehicles join the show and about half will receive a trophy of some kind. 

The parade is also a Toledo favorite. This year, the parade’s theme is “Aged to Perfection.” The grand marshals, or “Big Cheeses,” are Dale and Jeanette Koth and Ron and Sue Smith. 

Dale Koth is a Toledo Lions Club member, former school board member and former organizer of the Cheese Days auction. 

Jeanette Koth is an active member of the Good Idea Club, Lone Yew Sewing Club and Toledo Lioness. She was in charge of the Cheese Days vendors for 12 years and she helped Dale with the Cheese Day Auction, Lions Club fireworks stand at Market Fresh and “turkey bingo.” Dale and Jeanette have volunteered at the Mount St. Helens Forest Learning Center for years.

Ron Smith dedicates months each year to gathering sponsorships and donations for the Toledo Cheese Days classic car and motorcycle show. 

Sue Smith worked for Lewis County providing care for the elderly through the senior center in Winlock. Additionally, Sue spent over 20 years taking care of children of the community through Wee Care Daycare. Through the Lions Club, Cheese Days committee and more, Ron and Sue have filled essential roles in the city of Toledo for many years. 

For a thrilling history of Toledo Cheese Days written by Julie McDonald, one of The Chronicle’s columnists, visit page 12 of this PDF from Cheese Days 2019: