Growing up with an older sister made decision making through childhood fairly simple, anything she did I would do. Julie playing high school tennis resulted in me asking for a tennis racquet for Christmas that year. During my sister’s stage of taking photographs of nature, animals and people, I took one million photographs of cats and stuffed animals. The two years my older sister was a county dairy princess, I was a dairy princess for Halloween. It was clear that one day I would continue to follow in her steps of becoming a dairy princess for as I had done with numerous other decisions in my childhood.
In winter of 2011, I became a Benton County dairy princess. Before long, my spare time was filled with serving dairy products at various events, elementary school classroom visits and many, many parades. Over the years, I acquired the talent for making the perfect Dairy Queen swirl with ice cream machines and the love of speaking about dairy cows to students. Hours were spent preparing lessons to teach children about the dairy industry. Imagine the looks we received when they were told one cow drinks a whole bathtub of water in a day. These smiles made the hours of preparation worth while. As you can see below, some showed more excitement for the actual cheese than ‘cheesing’ for the photograph.
A portion of the dairy princess program in Minnesota is running for Princess Kay of the Milky Way. This competition runs every May, often called May event. Running for the title goes beyond the sash and the crown and gets down to how well one person will represent all Minnesota dairy farmers. There are four parts of this evaluation: written application, personal interview, mock radio interview and a prepared public speech. To prepare all princesses to represent their appropriate counties, hot topics, key messages and current events occurring in the Minnesota dairy industry are thought throughout the May event. At the conclusion of the event, 12 finalists are selected to get their heads carved of butter, known as the Butterheads, and the chance to run for Princess Kay of the Milky Way. From these finalists, Princess Kay of the Milky Way will be selected to represent the industry for a year. Although I have never reached this level, the hot topics, key messages and speaking skills acquired from this events have carried with me for years.
The role of a dairy princess would also not be complete without a summer filled of parades. Gaining the talent of the proper princess wave (the good ol’ petting the cow trick) and smiling throughout the freezing cold or blistering heat will remain at the heart of these memories. Princess waving and smiling to complete strangers became a habit with and without the crown and sash on. The endless memories of little girls and boys practicing their princess waves as our float passed by.
These dairy princess moments have gone but the memories will forever last. This experience shined light on how no matter the title or crown size anyone can speak towards a cause. In this case, this dream of a butterhead lead to classroom visits and a never ending pride in the agriculture industry that will last a lifetime.