They came up with T-shirts with the slogan “Carver in butter”. They were supporters of Princess Emily Leonard of Carver County Dairy, who competed last Wednesday, August 25, for the honor of Princess Kay of the Milky Way, the state’s ambassador for the dairy industry.
A bus full of supporters and other people who drove alone drove to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on the eve of “Greater Minnesota Get-back Together” to attend the coronation event. The State Fair Dairy Building, of course, is where all of Princess Kay’s finalists make appearances during the fair and have their heads carved out of butter for what has become an iconic chilled display and must-see attraction for kids. festival-goers – with milkshakes.
Indeed, a phrase uttered during the coronation ceremony by the house group “Milky Way” was: “The dairy building… where cold heads reign.
Families from local dairy farms, 4-H friends, former local dairy princesses – even Watertown’s own royalty ambassadors, a group of young people who represent the community at various events, much like the dairy princesses represent. the Minnesota Dairy made the trip to see the Coronation. farming families.
The group trip to Princess Kay’s ceremony is a tradition stretching back over two decades, says Barb Grimm, who, along with her husband Joel, milks Holsteins on their dairy farm near Waconia. The couple have three children, including two daughters Val and Laura who have both become dairy princesses.
Supporters of the Princess Kay candidates don’t just come from Carver County. Other communities send contingents for their own princess contestants creating a color scheme of t-shirts in the audience at the bandshell Leinie Lodge on the State Fairgrounds.
Jan Albrecht, a longtime dairy farmer with her husband Jerry and director of the Carver County Fairgrounds for many years, still works on the dairy showcase exhibit at the state fair. She calls the ceremony “a wonderful way to recognize dairy farmers and encourage young people in the industry.”
The Midwest Dairy Association sponsors the Princess Kay program. Princess Kay applicants are judged on their general knowledge of the dairy industry, communication skills and enthusiasm for dairy products.
The 10 contestants at last Wednesday’s ceremony shared their enthusiasm, influences and admiration for the farming way of life.
It is a shrinking community, but one that is proud. The number of dairy farms in Minnesota has fallen from 3,258 in 2017 to 2,448 in 2020, according to figures from the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, a drop caused by a number of factors: low milk prices, business consolidation, trade wars with China and an aging population. group of farmers withdrawing from dairy farms that require continued attention.
Still, dairy production remains strong and Princess Kay candidates have touted the nutritional value, variety and increasingly sustainable practices of farmers in providing fresh dairy products.
Emily Leonard of Norwood Young America is a sixth generation dairy farmer, daughter of Amy and Tim Leonard, whose older sister Christine was also a Princess Kay finalist. Many other nominees also recited their own dairy farm lineage and how they admired Princess Kay and their own local Dairy Princess finalists.
Laura Grimm, former Carver County Dairy Princess candidate and her twin sisters Amy Broll and Anna Broll, present for the 2021 ceremony, spoke of their enthusiasm for Princess Kay’s nominees.
“We know what they are going through and can hear our own hearts beating again when the crown is placed,” they repeated.
The last Princess Kay of Carver County was Jeni Haler in 2014, and it was Anna Euerle of Litchfield of Meeker County who wore the crown last Wednesday, becoming the 68th Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
Emily Leonard, a student at the University of Minnesota who hopes to be involved in dairy cattle research, walked away with a $ 1,000 scholarship. She had her head cut out of butter on Sunday.
Oh, if you want to know what happens to the 90-pound butter sculptures, former princesses explain that some keep them to feed them sweet corn, on cookie-baking days, maybe a public breakfast. pancake or some other farming event – maybe even a future wedding reception. A few are still in the freezer, which makes it a bit surprising to see a head when you open the freezer door, a dairy mom said.