ST. PAUL, Minn., Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Minnesota's newest Princess Kay of the Milky Way will be crowned in ceremonies beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 25 at the Minnesota State Fair Bandshell. The new princess will be the 51st young woman to wear the crown. Princess Kay serves as the official goodwill ambassador for Minnesota's dairy industry and the state's nearly 6,000 dairy farmers. The program is sponsored by the Midwest Dairy Association-Minnesota Division to help promote the dairy industry and its products. According to Mel Kunstleben, Chairman of the Minnesota Division and Paynesville dairy farmer, the Princess Kay program has been a continuous source of pride for Minnesota dairy farmers. "When we celebrated Princess Kay's 50th Anniversary last August, we learned what a wonderful tradition the Princess Kay program has become," said Kunstleben. "It's a very unique way of reaching consumers with the message that we have a wholesome, nutritious product, and that we care for our animals and the land we live on. Dairy farmers use their own checkoff dollars to fund the princess program, and it works well for us." The current Princess Kay is Tae Vander Kooi of Worthington in Nobles County. She will pass on the crown to one of 12 county dairy princesses who are vying for the 2004-2005 title. The coronation serves as a kickoff to the Minnesota State Fair, where Princess Kay and the other finalists make numerous public appearances. One of Princess Kay's first official duties after her coronation is to sit for nearly eight hours in a rotating cooler on opening day of the fair, while her likeness is sculpted in a 90-pound block of butter. The 11 other contestants will also have their likenesses sculpted in butter throughout the remaining days of the fair. The butter is processed by Associated Milk Producers, Inc. of New Ulm. During her yearlong reign, the new Princess Kay will take part in public appearances, promotional events and media interviews. The 12 candidates were chosen from a field of about 80 county dairy princesses during a statewide competition held in May. Princess contestants are judged on their general knowledge of the dairy industry, communication skills, personality and enthusiasm for dairy promotion. Midwest Dairy Association is a non-profit organization funded by dairy farmers to build demand for dairy products through advertising, marketing, nutrition education and research. During the past three years, cheese and fluid milk advertising programs were responsible for selling an additional 1.5 billion pounds of milk annually, according to USDA reports. Since the national program began in 1984 per capita consumption of dairy products has grown from 519 pounds to approximately 600 pounds.
SOURCE Midwest Dairy Association