Adelard Vanasse built the Cheese Factory in 1918 with the help of his son Armond, at the intersection called Four Corners. By 1925 the factory started to appear in the Wisconsin Dairy Foods Commissioner Reports under the name of BASS LAKE. The owner was listed as C.A. Bulgrin. During that time there were living quarters above the factory where some of the Cheesemakers would live with the Bulgrin family.
Back in the 20’s and 30’s employees worked seven days a week. During some years, in the summer months, truckers drove an extra evening route to pick up milk for an extra $10 a month. In the Mid 30’s wages went from $65 to $75 a month. A $10 cut in pay came in the fall to help pay the factory’s fuel bill. Also in the 30’s, Mr. Bulgrin had a snow plow installed on one of the trucks making for happy customers who had their roads and driveways opened up for them. The Factory made Colby, Cheddar and other longhorn style cheeses everyday. Twice a week cream was picked up and butter was made.
In 1941 the Bulgrins sold the land to Ed and Hilda Ferber. In 1947 the land was again transfered to a group of people who formed the Wissota Cheese Company. It was a company out of White Bear Lake Minnesota. They also produced under the Bass Lake Name as well as the Seakist Food name. It was owned by Robert Ferrar, Sr., Robert Ferrar, Jr., Paul Grey, Rodney McMullin, K.W. VanGuilder and Don Foedisch.
The factory was doing some remodeling and expansion work when, on August 22,1973, a fire destroyed much of the building and equipment. The store was only closed for four days and the factory area was still producing cheese. In 1974 a larger retail store and gift shop was added. Many of the Cheesemaker wives worked in the retail shop.
On February 24, 1984 Wissota Cheese closed. In August of 1984 Olfisco, Inc. bought the factory and ran it under the name of Cheese World, the Bass Lake name was also used.
Scott Erickson began working for Ofisco in 1984 making cheese. His wife Julie began working in the office in 1987. In October of 1991 Scott and Julie Erickson purchased the factory. After doing some remodeling in the store area they opened for business in January of 1992. Like all business, during the 1st year things needed replacing, repairing and altering. Things had to be added and taken away. New things had to be learned. Ideas came and went except for the major goal of Bass Lake Cheese Factory is to make the best cheese possible and give our customers the best service we can. Scott insists on doing things the Hands method. He says it takes longer to produce the cheese, but the result is better. Scott is still using most of the equipment that was installed in 1958.
In1994 Scott was asked by Land-O-Lakes and International Aid to go to Romania and help teach cheesemaking at a new factory. In 1998 Scott and Julie were asked to go to Macedonia to help them with cheesemaking. Scott taught cheesemaking and Julie taught marketing. Scott was later asked to return to Macedonia for followup visits.
In 1998 Scott also became a Master Cheesemaker. This is a program in Wisconsin and is the only one of its kind in the United States. It gives the cheesemakers a formal sequence of courses for cheese education. Scott currently is a Master in Six different cheeses. The six cheeses Scott is a Master in are Cheddar, Montery Jack, Muenster, Chev’re, Colby and Juusto Leipa.
In 2010 we have begun to do some remodeling of our retail area. We have moved somethings around and added a patio door which leads out onto a beautiful deck where you can enjoy the countryside. We have added some seating not only inside, but outside as well. We have been serving sandwiches for a few years now and have added homemade soups and Chili as well as meatball sandwiches. Not only do we serve sandwiches and soup, we now are able to offer Beer, Wine, Bloody Mary’s and some Mixed Drinks. In the summer of 2011 we added Pizza to our Menu. Made right here with our fresh grated Cheese. Summer 2014 we began expanding our menu to include made to order Burgers from local meat. There are a lot of exciting things that will be happening in the coming Years not only with the store but with Scott&’s award winning Cheeses!!