Cream of the crop: Four area women vied for state title of Princess Kay of the Milky Way

Minnesota: a place called home known for its picturesque 10,000-plus lakes and its cold-comfort hotdishes.

Butter sculptures at the Minnesota State Fair. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair)

And it’s a place where it’s an honor to have your likeness carved into an 90-pound block of Grade A butter and showcased at the state fair.

Twelve women will receive that honor after competing for the chance to be named Minnesota’s 65th Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

On opening day of the State Fair, the newly crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way has her likeness carved in butter. The sculpting continues throughout the fair with the other 11 Princess Kay finalists.

Among the competitors were four women from within the 16-counties of the Diocese of St. Cloud: Katherine Gathje of Richmond, representing Meeker County; Megan Hollermann of Burtrum, representing Todd County; Ashley Maus of Freeport, representing Stearns County; and Rebekka Paskewitz, Browerville, representing Todd County.

The contest is more than just a creamy face. To be eligible to compete, individuals must be actively engaged in the production of milk for sale to a licensed plant, or their parents must be employed on a dairy farm in a dairy-related capacity or she herself is employed part-time or full-time on a dairy farm in a dairy-related capacity.

Each of the women were named dairy princesses in their respective counties and were eligible to compete at the state level. Rebekka Paskewitz was named the Princess Kay winner at the coronation Aug. 22.

Princess Kay acts as a spokesperson and makes appearances on behalf of the dairy farmers of Minnesota and Midwest Dairy Association throughout her one-year reign.

The Visitor asked the four women from the diocese to answer questions pertaining to their roles as dairy farmers and princesses. Their responses are below.

Katherine Gathje

Katherine Gathje

Age: 19
Hometown: Richmond
Church: St. Nicholas, St. Nicholas

About Katherine’s family: Parents Scott and Denise Gathje; siblings: Joe, 25; Anne, 23; James, 21; Gregory, 18; and Jonathon, 15

Q: What is your favorite thing about central Minnesota?

A: I really enjoy the close-knit community we have in central Minnesota. Everyone is willing to share what they have to make sure their neighbors are able to do things a little bit easier.

Q: What values are most important to you?

A: I believe it is important to always be honest — this is the only way that people can build trust in one another. Open-mindedness is another value because it helps us to learn and to build a common ground with each other.

Q: What rural issue concerns you the most right now?

A: I am concerned about the amount of farmers having to sell their cows. It is hard to see so many people who have spent most of their life doing something they love and then not being able to make ends meet anymore.

Q: Does faith have a role in farming and/or rural life?

A: Faith and farming go hand in hand for my family and for most people. It takes faith to be able to get up every morning and do what we do with no guarantee that everything will go as planned.


Ashley Maus

Ashley Maus

Age: 19
Hometown: Freeport
Church: Immaculate Conception, New Munich

About Ashley’s family: Parents Darrel and Lisa Maus, older brother, Nathan, and two younger sisters, Katherine and Briana. Along with her siblings, she makes up the fourth generation on her family’s dairy farm located near Freeport.

Q: Why did you want to be a dairy princess?

A: I chose to compete for dairy princess because I really enjoyed sharing my passion for dairy with others. Many of the classmates I graduated with would agree that most of my assignments included dairy or farming in them. I realized my passion and wanted to share my story with others, such as elementary students and other community members.

Q: What rural issue concerns you the most right now?

A: Milk prices are low. It can be hard for farmers to make ends meet. As a dairy farmer myself, I know that my family has done our best to cut costs while still making sure the animals are getting the best care possible. Even though times may be tough now, it does not seem that way, because when I am home everyone still has a smile on their face to show we love what we are doing.

Q: What is one message you hope others might learn from you?

A: Take a chance and make mistakes. If you do not try you will not succeed. Mistakes are proof that you are trying, and each mistake can bring forth an opportunity to learn and grow.

Q: Does faith have a role in farming and/or rural life?

A: Each day my family puts our faith in Jesus. Some days are better than others, but we know that everything happens for a reason.

Q: What is your favorite chore to do?

A: My favorite is milking cows with my dad. While milking, we share stories about our lives and talk through problems we may have. On occasion, my family enjoys jamming out to the Oak Ridge Boys as well as music from the 1980s.


Rebekka Paskewitz

Rebekka Paskewitz

Age: 20
Hometown: Staples
Church: Church of Christ, Staples

About Bekka’s family: Dad, Alan; mom, Vicki; sisters, Rachel and Lexie. They own a millwork business south of Staples and raise beef cattle.

Q: What rural issue concerns you the most right now?

A: Today, I think there is an important need to support farmers and their health. Though farming has always been a physically exhausting lifestyle, we often ignore how mentally and emotionally exhausting our profession can be. In the midst of many outward challenges, farmers need our support as consumers more than ever. As a goodwill ambassador for Minnesota Dairy Farmers, it is my goal to support the health of our dairy farmers as they work hard to support us.

Q: What is one misconception people have about farmers or about dairy princesses that you’d like to dispel?

A: If someone was given the word “farmer” in a game of Pictionary, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a stick-man come to life in a pair of overalls, three cows grazing in the back, and of course the big red barn.

As a dairy farmer, I don’t wear overalls, and though some are, my barn is not red. Dairy farms come in all shapes and sizes, as do dairy farmers. But at the end of the day, we are just like you. We have families we care for, communities we are involved in, and dreams we hope to achieve. If I were given the word “farmer” in Pictionary, I would draw a rural girl with a big heart, who wants what’s best for her family, and yours, too.

Q: Does faith have a role in farming and/or rural life?

A: Our family is built on faith, and so is our farm. As a third generation family member on the farm, I had the pleasure of hearing countless stories from my grandparents and their five children. Each Sunday, the five kids would squeeze into the truck with Grandma and Grandpa and head toward church. Even now, three rows of church pews are filled with Paskewitzes each Sunday morning. We are brought together on and off the farm, through challenges and in the best of times, through faith. For me personally, faith has played a large role in my growth and accomplishments in the dairy community.


Megan Hollermann

Megan Hollermann

Age: 20
Hometown: Burtrum

About Megan’s family: Parents Shawn and Debbie; two younger brothers Dylan and Mason.

Q: What is your favorite thing about central Minnesota?

A: I love the small feeling that everyone knows each other and everyone cares for each other.

Q: Why did you want to be a dairy princess?

A: I wanted an opportunity to give back to Minnesota dairy farmers and what better way than narrowing the gap between farmers and consumers.

Q: What values are most important to you?

A: My family is my greatest asset. When I fall, they are there to collect me and get me on my feet. When I succeed, they are the ones in the crowd hooting and hollering.

Q: What is one misconception people have about farmers or about dairy princesses that you’d like to dispel?

A: There isn’t a moment in a normal day of dairy farming that we aren’t worried about or working to better cattle comfort and satisfaction.

Q: What is one message you hope others might learn from you?

A: Being a dairy farmer, I’ve met lots of dairy farmers and they are the most compassionate, honorable and enthusiastic people I’ve met.

About Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is a multimedia reporter for The Visitor newspaper.

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