May 21, 2007

New dairy princesses will gear up for dairy month

By Jenni Sebora

More than 100 young women across the state of Minnesota have been crowned 2007 county dairy princesses, including the counties of Carver, McLeod, and Wright.

Dairy princesses are selected on the basis of their communication skills, personality, general knowledge of the dairy industry and its products, and their commitment to the dairy industry.

Teresa Feist, who has served on the Carver County dairy princess committee, noted that one of the main qualities that is sought after in a dairy princess is someone who will represent the dairy industry well.

Dairy princess candidates must be high school graduates and not yet 24 years old and must not be married. They are daughters of dairy farmers, employees of dairy farms, or daughters of dairy farm employees.

The number of dairy princesses crowned in each county is based on state regulation, McLeod County dairy princess coordinator Janice Konerza noted.

This year, McLeod County crowned all six girls who ran for the title. In Wright County, all four of the candidates were crowned, and in Carver County all four of its candidates were crowned, as well.

Konerza says during the dairy month of June, all of the girls crowned are kept very busy.

Each of the McLeod County dairy princesses are going to college, so coordinating all of the various events with each of the girl’s schedules is also a busy task, Konerza added.

Past Wright County dairy princess coordinator Faye Bakeberg added that the girls are probably busy 20 of the 30 days in June with some type of dairy-related event or activity.

Throughout the dairy month in the various counties at various locations, one will find dairy princesses serving glasses of milk or other dairy products. The princesses are involved in other dairy promotion activities also.

Dairy princesses serve as spokespeople, conducting interviews, making classroom visits to educate students about the dairy industry, giving speeches to varied organizations, and making public appearances at promotions and events.

Sherry Newell of the Midwest Dairy Association (ADA) noted that the dairy princess program is the single most visible event or activity a county American Dairy Association board does to promote the dairy industry.

All of the girls crowned hold an equal title as dairy princesses. Prior to approximately 1975, a queen and princesses were crowned in each county, Konerza explained, who herself was a former Carver County dairy princess.

Carver County dairy princess coordinator Bonnie Brabec says that the preparation for the dairy princess coronation gets rolling in about January, with most coronations occurring in March and April.

And Brabec says there’s a lot of planning and work that goes into the dairy princess program.

“It’s very time consuming. It’s a lot of work,” but she adds, “It’s a great program,” and a good learning experience for the girls.

An ambassador program for the younger girls and possibly boys in Carver County also exists in some counties to provide a learning experience for those kids involved, as well.

Approximately 10 years ago, McLeod County implemented an ambassador program which involves sophomore girls with the same background as a dairy princess candidate. There is no coronation for the ambassadors, but they wear sashes and help the princesses out at the various events.

Konerza added that the ambassador program is for those girls who want to learn more about the dairy princess program.

“It’s a learning experience,” Konerza said of the ambassador program.

An ambassador program is also in the works for Carver County with the hopes to get the program implemented next year, Brabec noted.

But, Brabec said, the Carver County dairy princess committee is looking into involving both girls and boys at younger ages, such as 10 – 12 year olds.

Although boys won’t be running for the reign of a dairy princess, it (the ambassador program) is a way to involve boys also.

Each year, county dairy princesses from across the state are invited to participate in seminars designed to provide them with dairy promotion information, ideas, and life skills to help them in their new role and in the future, the web site www.midwestdairy.com noted.

During this event, county princesses also have an opportunity to elect to participate in the Princess Kay of the Milky Way pageant competition, which was the name selected from over 10,000 in a 1954 contest to name the Minnesota dairy princess, the web site http://en. wikipedia.org noted.

Twelve finalists are selected in the pageant to advance to the competition in August, in which one is crowned Princess Kay.

This year, the Dairy Princess Promotion Training and Selection Event is scheduled for May 18 - 20 at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, MN.

Since its origination in 1954, Carver County has boasted two Princess Kays, Janet Forner Bosch of Chaska in 1982 and Beth Mesenbring-Mastre of Cologne in 1990.

McLeod County has had three dairy princesses crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way. In 1966, Linda Kottke of Glencoe was crowned. In 2002, Sarah Olson of Hutchinson earned the title, and most recently, 2005, Rebekah Dammann of Lester Prairie was crowned Princess Kay.

Roger Rolf, who serves on the McLeod County ADA board, has enjoyed seeing McLeod County dairy princesses take advantage of their opportunities.

“The highlight of being on the board has been having Sarah Olson in 2002 and Becky Dammann last year (2005) getting Princess Kay,” Rolf said.

2007 Dairy Princesses crowned in the area

Carver County

Amy Esselman

Chelsey Buesgens

Rebecca Otto

Kari Hoen

McLeod County

Cheryl Konerza

Megan Matthews

Alison Benson

Maemie Hoese

Kelly Riemenschneider

Amber Wilkens

Wright County

Bridget Boehlke

Meghan Pawelk

Andrea Neumann

Kelsey Kolles

Dairy Princess Promotion

training seminar:

May 18 – 20

College of St. Benedict,

St. Joseph, MN

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