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Mills is Princess Kay finalist

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 08/30/2013 1:18 PM

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LAKE CITY, Minn. — Libby Mills had concluded she wasn't going to be a Princess Kay finalist when the emcee began announcing finalist No. 11.

The description started to sound familiar, like it could be her. A crazy flood of emotions overwhelmed her. When her name was called, she stood up and saw her parents, Kent and Deborah, and her sisters, Abby and Maggie, smiling ear-to-ear. It almost made her cry to see how proud they were, said Mills, 18.

"It really is an incredible opportunity, an incredible position," she said, adding she's humbled by the honor.

This is Mills' first year as a Goodhue County Dairy Princess. Her sister, Abby, was a Goodhue County Dairy Princess in 2011.

She was crowned in April and became a Princess Kay finalist in May. She'll attend three special events this summer as a finalist, but her primary duty is promoting dairy in Goodhue County.

"It's such an honor, you're advocating to consumers," Mills said. "I really fill like it's an important thing to give a voice to farmers and bridge that gap."

She worked at Goodhue County's Breakfast on the Farm, and she's already rode in a couple of parades. There will be a few more parades and a bunch of duties at the county fair. She'll hand out ribbons, work in the malt stand and compete with the town princesses during the county fair milking contest.

The milking contest is a hoot to watch, Mills said. It's a healthy competition, and the town girls have been known to win.

She also will show dairy and dairy steers at the county fair. At one point, she and her sisters had 30 animals at the fair between them. She's been showing dairy since she was 5 years old.

Another focus of her summer will be visiting child care centers in the county. It's a relatively new outreach effort and an emphasis for this year's county dairy princesses, Mills said.

The princesses talk to the children about how dairy products get from the farm to them and about getting their three servings of dairy a day. She brings in a sample of cow feed, milk replacer, a bottle and a milker.

"That's really fun, they get to smell it and touch it," Mills said.

Her family operates a 250-cow dairy on the outskirts of Lake City, tucked back along a gravel road just down the lane from a few housing subdivisions. They milk three times per day in a double 12 parlor.

The dairy stood empty for a couple years before they moved there five years ago.

"It's been such a blessing living here. ... It's quiet," Mills said, sitting on the deck of her house.

She is responsible for daily chores on the farm. She and her sisters take care of the sheep, horses, steers and calves. After weaning, the heifers go to a custom heifer raiser, and the bull calves are sold. They have 12 fair steers, two horses and 15 ewes.

The sheep flock started when Mills won an essay contest in 2003. She received $250 to go toward the purchase of a sheep. She bought Wendy. Later, they bought three sheep from their great uncle Harris' flock. The flock quickly multiplied.

She showed sheep for seven years.

"I always wanted sheep so bad," Mills said. She grew attached to them on visits to her great uncle's.

Her father didn't want sheep on the farm at first, she said.

"I think he likes them now," Mills said.