One week from today the gates to the Great Minnesota Get-Together will open wide. Today is also Throwback Thursday. What a great day to talk about the state fair, and more specifically, butterheads past and present.
Growing up, my Dad offered to pay us $5 for every calf we successfully trained. At the time, I thought he was funding our state fair dreams. In retrospect, I think he greatly valued the amount of time we spent towing uncooperative calves around the yard “training” them, and as such, leaving Dad to work in peace.
For country kids, the fair was, and remains, a very big deal. The fair is the one week all summer parents allow, and even encourage, their children to spend time at the fair with their 4-H pals. Of course, a good deal of work is required to keep their animals well cared for at the fair, but there are plenty of opportunities for rides, malts, and hijinx as well.
For a dairy farmer’s daughter, the only dream that exceeds a Grand Champion Ribbon at the State Fair, is the opportunity to serve as Princess Kay of the Milky Way. To be eligible to represent the dairy industry as Princess Kay, you must work on an active dairy farm. Each county sends three young women to compete at the state level. Some counties have more than three contestants at the county level; however, the county must narrow it down to three candidates to send to the statewide competition. Of the 261 eligible candidates, only 12 finalists are selected to represent the dairy industry at the state fair. The 12 finalists compete for the title Princess Kay of the Milky Way. They are judged in 7 categories: etiquette, mock media interview, panel interview, extemporaneous remarks, panel interview, speaking ability, writing ability, and a one-on-one interview.
Bonnie, my older sister, was a finalist for Princess Kay in 2001. All 12 finalists have their likeness sculpted into a 90-pound block of Grade-A butter. The process takes 6-8 hours in a 40 degree, revolving room. It is a must-see at the fair.
Bonnie: Butterhead ’01
I was lucky enough to be a finalist in 2006. I was not selected as Princess Kay, but I did receive an ice cream cone charm made of Swarovski crystal, which is basically the next best thing, am I right?
Amanda: Butterhead ‘06
For three blissful years, the butter avatars coexisted in a freezer in my parent’s basement. Yes, my parents actually bought an extra freezer to store all 180 pounds of buttery goodness.
I had big plans for our butterheads. It was a long-term plan. Very long-term. I wanted to save our butterheads just in case my younger sisters followed in our footsteps and brought home their very own malleable statues. When Bonnie was crowned in 2001, our youngest sister Katrina was only two years old. As I said, long-term. Anyway, my big idea was to put all four butterheads together- a Mount Rushmore of sorts. For good measure, I thought we could put Santa hats on the heads and send out the most epic Christmas Card of all time! It would read, "Hope you have a Dairy Good Year!"
But alas, my sisters did not share my dream. More importantly, my parents did not support the idea of purchasing another freezer to warehouse butterheads. So the day after Bonnie's wedding in 2009 we had a giant corn feed and butter Bonnie bit the dust. In 2012, I followed suit the day after our wedding. I was not happy about it.
While it may be too late to create a Mount Thoemore Christmas Card, my younger sister McCayla is a finalist for Princess Kay this year. We are all so thrilled and excited to see her pursue this childhood dream. Princess Kay will be crowned next Wednesday, the night before the State Fair opens. Regardless of the coutcome, McCayla will always be my little Dairy Princess! XOXO Sista!
McCayla Thoe: Butterhead Coming 2014