On what likely will be a sweltering Thursday, the opening day of the 2014 Minnesota State Fair, 19-year-old Jeni Haler will don a coat and take a seat inside an oversized refrigerator in the Dairy Building to have her likeness carved in a 90-pound block of butter.
The Midwest Dairy Association website explained that will be Haler's first official duty as the newly crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way. The college student from Norwood Young America was crowned as the 61st Princess Kay in a Wednesday evening ceremony. Haler will serve as the official goodwill ambassador for more than 3,600 Minnesota dairy farm families.
Haler attends the University of Minnesota and has a double major in animal science and Spanish/Portuguese studies. AgriNews reports that she comes from a royal family. Her two sisters, Chaneen and Victoria, were Princess Kay finalists in 2011 and 2012, and so was her mother, Connie Haasken, in 1987.
Haler's coronation means the family will have 270 pounds of butter in their freezer. The two older Haler sisters have been saving their butterhead sculptures. After the fair, the Halers plan a community corn feed, but first they've got to pose for a photograph.
"My sisters have been waiting for this moment," Haler said. "We'll have to put our heads together and take a picture."
Haler and her sisters grew up working on the family dairy herd, splitting their time between their father's farm and their mother's house in town. The Halers milk about 70 cows and raise about 70 young stock. Most are Holsteins. The story noted that Haler "helps out with just about everything but particularly with milking and feeding cows and calves."
"I am so very humbled and honored to be selected as Princess Kay and represent our proud, dedicated dairy farmers," Haler says on the Princess Kay Facebook page. "I look forward to my year and cannot wait to share our dairy story."
The AgriNews story added that Haler hopes to use her education to work with Heifer International, an international nonprofit that aims to reduce hunger and poverty by providing families in developing countries with livestock.
"It would allow me to travel the world to teach people how to care for animals and about sustainable agriculture," Haler said.
Twelve county dairy princesses from throughout Minnesota competed for the title. Princess Kay candidates are judged on their general knowledge of the dairy industry, communication skills and enthusiasm for dairy. The Midwest Dairy Association sponsors the Princess Kay program, which is funded by the dairy checkoff.
Each finalist will have her likeness carved in butter during the fair. This year marks butter sculptor Linda Christensen’s 43rd year carving Princess Kay and the finalists.
KARE 11 had video of Haler's surprised response as she was named as this year's Princess and presented with the crown.
Last year's Princess Kay, MarJenna McWilliam, was an unusual dairy ambassador in one respect: she was lactose intolerant. KARE 11 talked to her about that earlier this month. She hails from a northern Minnesota farm with only about 25 cows, AgriNews noted in this profile.