County has Princess Kay runner-up
FALCON HEIGHTS -- While neither Nobles County Princess Kay finalist will return home with the grand crown, DiDi Christopherson and Kia Vander Kooi will -- at the very least -- have their likeness carved in 90-pound blocks of butter at the Minneso...
FALCON HEIGHTS -- While neither Nobles County Princess Kay finalist will return home with the grand crown, DiDi Christopherson and Kia Vander Kooi will -- at the very least -- have their likeness carved in 90-pound blocks of butter at the Minnesota State Fair within the next week.
Christopherson and Vander Kooi were among 12 girls vying to represent Minnesota's dairy industry as the 53rd Princess Kay of the Milky Way Wednesday night at the state fairgrounds in Falcon Heights. At the program's end, it was 18-year-old Audrey Mohr of New Ulm, representing Brown County, who was awarded the title. She received her crown from outgoing Princess Kay Rebekah Dammann of Lester Prairie.
Mohr was selected following the naming of three finalists, including Christopherson and Amanda Thoe of Dodge County.
Though Christopherson was the third in her family to be in the running for Princess Kay, she was actually the first to make it to the final round of three. Christopherson's selection was enough to make any parent proud.
"Oh, that was exciting," said Dean Christopherson. "I was really excited."
"We're really proud," chimed in his wife, Carol.
Carol said her youngest of five daughters set her sight on becoming Princess Kay when eldest daughter, Cynda, had her likeness carved in butter as a 1994 Princess Kay finalist.
"It's something DiDi's always wanted -- her whole heart is in dairy," said Carol following Wednesday night's ceremony. "She really wanted to follow her sisters' steps, and she did a little bit better -- she got to be a (top three) finalist."
The Christophersons' fourth daughter, Eir, was a Princess Kay finalist in 2001, while daughters Amy and Kelly reigned as Nobles County Dairy Princesses in the late 1990s.
Vander Kooi also comes from a family steeped in Princess Kay tradition. The youngest of four children, both of her older sisters -- Anna and Tae -- vied for Princess Kay. Anna was a finalist in 1996, while Tae was crowned the 50th Princess Kay of the Milky Way in 2003.
Both sisters, along with older brother Joe, parents Dave and Deb Vander Kooi and a host of extended family, were on hand to watch Wednesday's ceremony.
They cheered as Vander Kooi and Christopherson were each awarded one of three available $500 scholarships offered by Midwest Dairy Foundation during the evening ceremony. The third scholarship went to Alise Jennissen of Stearns County.
The final honor before the Princess Kay selection was the naming of Thoe as Miss Congeniality.
Each of the Princess Kay finalists have been in the Twin Cities since Monday. They were featured on television news broadcasts on both WCCO 4 and KARE 11, and on Tuesday they were judged.
Vander Kooi said they each had to participate in a mock interview, go through a 10-minute personal interview and present a dairy-related speech.
"It has been an amazing three days," she said. "I do not regret a minute of it."
Christopherson said she and the other finalists had a lot of fun getting to know each other. Both she and Vander Kooi said Mohr will represent the dairy industry well in the next year.
"Audrey will do an awesome job," Christopherson said. "She's such a sweetheart. She's just a great, all-around person."
Both Vander Kooi and Christopherson will work at the Minnesota State Fair through Labor Day, doing duties associated with Princess Kay. On Sunday, it will be Christopherson's turn to get her likeness carved in a 90-pound block of butter in the 38-degree rotating butter booth inside Empire Commons. The carving will begin at 9 a.m. and continue until approximately 5 p.m.
Vander Kooi will follow suit on Wednesday, the very day she celebrates her 20th birthday.