BY STARRLA CRAY
HOWARD LAKE, MN “I know it’s going to be a great year,” 19-year-old Kyla Mauk said in a phone interview Thursday morning, while rotating in a 40-degree F butter booth.
As the 62nd Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Mauk was enjoying her first official duty as the goodwill ambassador for Minnesota’s dairy industry having her likeness carved in a 90-pound block of butter at the Minnesota State Fair.
Mauk, the daughter of Chris and Harlan Mauk of Howard Lake, is a sophomore at South Dakota State University. Classes started last Monday, but Mauk won’t be going back to school until after the fair’s 12-day run.
“I will be a full-time student along with Princess Kay, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Mauk, who is pursuing a degree in agricultural education.
“My goal is to be a high school agricultural teacher and FFA advisor,” Mauk said, explaining that she was greatly impacted by the FFA program at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School.
Mauk was crowned as a Wright County Dairy Princess in April, and became a Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalist in May.
The 12 finalists from around the state arrived at the state fairgrounds last Monday, and went through in-depth interviews Tuesday.
“It has been awesome getting to know the other 11 girls,” Mauk said.
Other local finalists include Rachel Stender of Lester Prairie (representing McLeod County), Carley Vinkemeier of Norwood Young America (representing Carver County), and Jennifer Oelfke of Hamburg (representing Sibley County). The outgoing Princess Kay is Jeni Haler of Carver County.
Coronation took place Wednesday evening. When Mauk was chosen as Princess Kay, she said she was speechless and shaking.
“It was an absolute blast,” she said. “Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Mauk said she appreciates all the hardworking farmers in Minnesota, especially those in Wright County who have helped make it possible for her to represent as Princess Kay.
Throughout the year, Mauk will make appearances across the state, serving as a spokeswoman for the dairy industry.
“The thing I’m really looking forward to is classroom visits,” Mauk said.