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Nelson chosen as Princess Kay finalist

Princess Kay, steele county, Afton Nelson
Rick Bussler, Publisher

For the first time in more than a decade, Steele County will have a finalist vying for the Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

Afton Nelson, 20, of Owatonna has been chosen as one of 10 finalists for the top ambassador for Minnesota’s dairy industry. She competed in the Princess Kay competition May 10-11 in Minneapolis. The finalists were announced on Mother’s Day.

“I screamed,” said Nelson upon learning she had been chosen as a finalist. “I was shocked and super excited. I’m ecstatic to have this opportunity.”

Nelson shared how her mother said she thought she lost her hearing when finding out about her making the final cut.

There were three stages of judging to become a finalist, including speech, mock media interview and professional interview. Nelson attributed her success this year with having the opportunity to go through the statewide process last year without actually competing for Princess Kay.

Nelson’s speech focused on water conservation. She focused on how dairy producers are recycling water on the farm and turning the tables to become more sustainable. She added a recent paper she did in college on the subject came in handy with helping her prepare for the speech.

She credits her ag advisor at Glencoe-Silver Lake High School who is a past Princess Kay with influencing her to run for the top honor. She also received encouragement from Gail Zollner, a member of the Steele County American Dairy Association.

Though Nelson has never been raised on a farm, she quickly developed a love for dairy after attending Cow Camp at Clover Glen Farms near Claremont as a third grader. During high school, she took part in National Honor Society, band, FFA and dairy judging. She also was active in 4-H with dairy projects in Steele County. Last fall, upon graduating from the 4-H program, she received two top awards, “I Dare You” and Kottke Dairy.

She is currently attending the University of Wisconsin- River Falls where she is majoring in dairy science. In college, she has been involved in Dairy Club and Block and Bridle Club.

Nelson is proud to be a three-time state champion for dairy production placement, dairy handling and dairy production entrepreneurship.

For the past three years, Nelson has been a dairy princess for Steele County. She will be representing the local dairy industry this summer as one of six dairy princesses. She is looking forward to her favorite event of the year, Breakfast on the Farm, which will take place June 8 at Kashome Holsteins near Medford.

The 10 finalists for Princess Kay will gather for judging in August. The coronation crowning the new Princess Kay will take place on Aug. 21, the night before the Minnesota State Fair begins.

Nelson is excited that she will have her likeness carved out of a 90-pound block of butter at the Minnesota State Fair. It’s already leaving her with a dilemma. “I don’t have room in my freezer,” she said.

Her parents are Tim Nelson of Owatonna and Stacy Nelson of Glencoe.

The last dairy princess from Steele County to make the Princess Kay finalists was Kelsey Mussman in 2012.

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