Princess Kay Coronation Set for August 22

"And the 59th Princess Kay of the Milky Way is…" This year's Minnesota State Fair kicks off with the coronation of Princess Kay of the Milky Way on Wednesday evening, August 22, when reigning Princess Mary Zahurones of Pierz, representing Morrison County, will pass the crown on to one of 12 county dairy princesses vying for the title.

WHAT: 59th Princess Kay of the Milky Way Coronation
WHEN: Wednesday, August 22, 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Minnesota State Fair Band Shell

Princess Kay of the Milky Way serves as the official goodwill ambassador for Minnesota's nearly 4,000 dairy farmers. The 12 finalists for the title of 2012?2011 Princess Kay of the Milky Way are:

• Kelsey Buss, 20, McLeod County, daughter of Kevin and Lori Buss of Hutchinson;
• Valerie Grimm,18, Carver County, daughter of Joel and Barb Grimm of Waconia;
• Victoria Haler, 18, Carver County, daughter of Rick Haler and Connie Haasken of Waconia;
• Meg Hintzen, 21, Douglas County, daughter of Leonard and Jodi Hintzen of Carlos;
• Kirsten Meier, 20, Stearns County, daughter of Vernon and Michelle Meier of Watkins;
• Laura Mesenburg, 19, Olmsted County, daughter of Amy and Dan Mesenburg of Byron;
• Kelsey Mussman, 19, Dodge County, daughter of Mike and Julie Mussman of Claremont;
• Elizabeth Nix, 22, McLeod County, daughter of Tim and Ann Nix of Plato;
• Christine Reitsma, 17, Stearns County, daughter of Paul and Carolyn Reitsma of Sauk Centre;
• Laura Rosenhammer, 21, Brown County, daughter of John and Patty Rosenhammer of Sleepy Eye;
• Aly Schwartau, 19, Goodhue County, daughter of David and Jane Schwartau of Red Wing; and
• Maggie Stiles, 18, Dakota County, daughter of Mike and Tina Stiles of Lakeville.

Nearly 60 county dairy princesses participated in judging in May, which took place along with a dairy promotion workshop for all county princesses. Each year, more than 100 young women from across Minnesota are crowned county dairy princesses, and 12 are selected as finalists to become Princess Kay. Each of the 12 finalists will have her likeness carved in butter during the fair.

Dairy princesses are selected on the basis of their communication skills, personality, general knowledge of the dairy industry and its products, and their commitment to dairy promotion. The program gives many young women the opportunity to represent the lifestyle in which they were raised. Dairy princesses serve as spokespeople to consumers, conduct media interviews, make classroom visits to educate students about the dairy industry, give speeches to various organizations and make public appearances at promotions or events.