Twelve young women from dairy farm backgrounds have been chosen as finalists for the title of Princess Kay of the Milky Way.
The women were selected at the conclusion of a three-day event for county dairy princesses recently held in St. Joseph.
Each of the 12 will be sculpted in butter during the 2013 Minnesota State Fair. Princess Kay is crowned each year the night before the State Fair opens.
The finalists include:
•Katelyn Blackwelder, 20, Chokio, representing Big Stone County, daughter of Mark and Amy Blackwelder;
•Katie Buckentine, 19, Chaska, representing Carver County, daughter of John and Jean Buckentine;
•Nicole Jax, 19, Waltham, representing Mower County, daughter of Doug and Becky Jax;
•Johanna Knorr, 18, Pelican Rapids, representing Ottertail-West County, daughter Brad and Jane Knorr;
•Alydia Lee, 21, Lake City, representing Wabasha County, daughter of Jeff and Ruth Lee;
•MarJenna McWilliam, 20, Winger, representing Polk County, daughter of Bruce and LaVonne McWilliam;
•Libby Mills, 18, Lake City, representing Goodhue County, daughter of Kent and Deborah Mills;
•Eryn Orth, 18, Winona, representing Winona County, daughter of Jim and Laurie Orth;
•Ashley Overman, 22, Freeport, representing Stearns County, daughter of Keith and Lucy Overman;
•Sarah Paskewitz, 19, Browerville, representing Todd County, daughter of Bruce and Sandy Paskewitz;
•Rachael Rostad, 19, Zumbrota, representing Goodhue County, daughter of Joel and Bridget Rostad;
•Katie Schmitt, 18, Rice, representing Benton County, daughter of Mark and Natalie Schmitt.
Princess Kay serves as the official goodwill ambassador for the state's dairy farmers, and makes appearances to help explain their commitment to taking care of the animals and resources while providing wholesome, nutritious and affordable dairy products. Midwest Dairy Association manages the program.
The competition started with a 1954 contest by the Minnesota Dairy Industry Committee. The name "Princess Kay of the Milky Way" was selected from more than 10,000 entries in a contest to name the dairy princess.
Contestants must be U.S. citizens, and their parents, guardians, or siblings must be actively involved in the production of dairy products. Candidates are judged on communication skills, personality, general knowledge of the dairy industry and its products, and their commitment to dairy promotion.
Since 1965, sculptures of the winning Princess Kay and other finalists have been carved, one per day, at the Minnesota State Fair. Butter sculptures have been carved out of a 90-pound block of Grade A butter manufactured by Associated Milk Producers in New Ulm.