A family affair


Long-time Corn Carnival volunteer teaches his grandchildren the ropes

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

For Butch Amundsen of Cokato, working at the Cokato Corn Carnival is becoming a family affair.

For 21 years, Amundsen has been lighting the way for the Corn Carnival festivities and now, he’s teaching his grandchildren the ropes.

Four days before the Corn Carnival began, Gavyn, 9, and Jacob, 8, were helping their grandfather string lights and cables and crawling under the stage.

“They just love it,” Amundsen said.

Amundsen appreciates the help since some things – like crawling under the stage and stretching the cables underneath it – he is no longer able to do as easily.

Gavyn and Jacob are sons of Jeff and Nikki Amundsen of Cokato.

Beside her brothers, Brenna, who is 5, is also following in her grandfather’s footsteps, helping out whenever and wherever she can.

The Sunday before the Corn Carnival, the two boys run the light board for setting lights, Amundsen said.

Then on Tuesday night, for the queens’ coronation, the boys are next to the stage running the lights while Amundsen runs the sound.

What Gavyn likes most about helping out during the Corn Carnival is being with his “papa” and crawling under the stage.

Jacob has fun running the lights, while Brenna just likes being around and helping her papa, as well.

The queens’ coronation hasn’t always been a part of the Corn Carnival.

When it first started in 1948, the coronation was called the Snow Queen contest.

The last winter coronation took place in January of 1986, with Sally Cressy as queen and Kari Shoutz – mother of the newly crowned princess, Courtney Valen – as princess.

That year, the Cokato royalty reigned for one-and-a-half years, until the first summer ceremony in August 1987.

What Butch likes is that the coronation isn’t just a crowning.

There is a show with different programs such as the poise and appearance portion, where contestants walk along the stage and are introduced to the audience.

“People seem to like that,” Amundsen said.

Though he is quite busy the second week in August, Amundsen’s job doesn’t start and end with the Corn Carnival. During the winter, he helps fathers of the royalty make floats for Anoka’s Halloween parade and the Winsted Winter Festival.

“I enjoy it. It keeps me young,” he said.

“The girls are always wonderful to work with. It’s almost time for me to quit though,” Amundsen said jokingly, explaining he is now working with girls who are the daughters of former contestants.

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