All Things Dairy at the Minnesota State Fair

Princess Kay of the Milky WayMinnesota’s dairy industry celebrates the 60th Princess Kay of the Milky Way; Team Dairy warms up for the Milk Run, All-You-Can-Drink Milk one of the Best Values at the Fair

This year is a momentous one for Minnesota’s dairy farming families at the State Fair, as the industry celebrates 60 years of the iconic Princess Kay of the Milky Way, and features longtime favorites like the Milk Run 5K, the All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand and the Dairy Goodness Bar.

60 Years of Princess Kay: Most people lament the end of summer, but for the 12 Princess Kay of the Milky Way candidates preparing for judging and coronation on the eve of the Minnesota State Fair each year – it’s something they’ve been looking forward to their entire lives.

This year commemorates the crowning of the 60th woman to wear the crown. The tradition began in 1954, with the coronation of Eleanor (Maley) Thatcher. Thatcher and other Princess Kays from throughout the decades and across the state joined current Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Christine Reitsma of Sauk Centre, at the Minnesota History Center on Saturday, July 27, to begin the countdown to the Minnesota State Fair. The group celebrated both tradition and the changes in the industry over the years, and viewed a historical artifact – a dress made for the 1965 Minnesota State Fair featuring butter cartons from creameries around the state. This year’s Princess Kay of the Milky Way coronation ceremony begins at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21, at the State Fair Band Shell (1302 Cooper Street).

Princess Kay of the Milky Way and each of the Princess Kay finalists will be giving “My Farm, My Story” presentations so that fair-goers can learn more about dairy farmers’ commitment to healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy planet. Presentations will be held daily beginning Monday, August 26, at 10:45 a.m. on the Moo Booth stage near the showcase herd inside Cattle Barn (Judson and Liggett). Princess Kay and the finalists will also be presenting their stories on the Christensen Farm Stage near the FFA Miracle of Birth Center (Judson and Clough) on Saturday, August 24 (3 p.m.), Monday, August 26 (3 p.m.), Tuesday, August 27 (3 p.m.), Sunday, September 1 (1 – 3 p.m.) and Monday, September 2 (1 p.m.).

Fair-goers can enter a daily contest to win a classroom visit from the newly crowned 60th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Entrants must follow Midwest Dairy on Twitter (@MidwestDairy) and tweet a photo of themselves near the butter sculpting booth in the Dairy Building along with the hashtag #MNPrincessKay. One winner will be selected randomly each day of the fair (August 22 – September 2) and announced on Twitter by noon the following day (beginning on 8/23).

5k Milk RunRun, Dairy, Run: There’ll be some special participants behind the starting line when the 29th annual State Fair Milk Run 5K kicks off this year. Nineteen members of Team Dairy, a running group for dairy enthusiasts, will participate in the annual race on Sunday morning, August 25 (7:45 a.m.; near the Blue Ribbon Picnic Area). The event has become a tradition for athletes and families alike. Midwest Dairy Association is sponsoring the event again this year, with Kemps providing the free chocolate milk to runners as they cross the finish line. The 60th Princess Kay of the Milky Way will give the signal for the race to begin.

All-You-Can-Drink Milk StandPeople’s Choice: Last year, fair-goers voted the All-You-Can-Drink Milk Stand (corner of Judson and Clough) the Best Food or Beverage Value at the fair in the inaugural People’s Choice Awards (Food/Drink category). A 12-oz. cup to refill with fresh, cold 2 percent white or low-fat chocolate milk is still just a dollar.

And Oh, the Malts: As always, the Dairy Goodness Bar (Dairy Building, corner of Judson and Underwood) will be serving up its famous malts, sundaes, and cones, as well as milk, yogurt, Greek yogurt, cheese sticks and fresh cheese curds. Fair-goers can enjoy a favorite treat while marveling at Princess Kay of the Milky Way and finalists being sculpted in butter in the 40-degree rotating cooler. On Thrifty Thursday (Opening Day, Aug. 22), 8-oz. chocolate milks are two for $1. On Senior Days (Monday, Aug. 26, and Thursday, Aug. 29), ice cream cones are $2.50 each. On Kids Days (Monday, Aug. 26, and Monday, Labor Day, Sept. 2), cheese sticks are two for $1. And on Military Appreciation Day (Tuesday, Aug. 27), $1 off sundaes.

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