Schwartau keeps busy with dairy princess duties
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 09/10/2012 2:54 PM
RED WING, Minn. — Goodhue County Dairy Princess and Princess Kay finalist Aly Schwartau was at a dairy princess event in Zumbrota the night monsoon 2012 hit.
A swath of northern Rice and Steele counties and southern Dakota County received 10 inches of rain. Their rain gauge overflowed at their rural Red Wing farm and water rushing through a dry run washed out their driveway.
She had plans to head to St. Paul to meet with another Princess Kay finalist and spend the night before driving to the Butterhead Blast at the farm of Princess Kay of the Milky Way Mary Zahurones on June 15-16.
Heavy rains caused her to reconsider and a call to her mother, Jane, confirmed her plans. Jane said she didn't think she's make it home through the low-lying roads.
She called her friend and told her if she wasn't there in two and a half hours to call. The trip normally takes an hour. She couldn't see 20 feet in front of her.
"I prayed my whole way to the Cities," Schwartau said.
She also noticed her Guardian Angel pin was missing, likely relocated during a car swap.
Several Hail Marys later, the sky cleared near Hampton. It went from pouring rain to cloudless in two miles, Schwartau said.
She and the other finalists participated in several events, including a Breakfast at the Farm on Saturday morning, before she returned home. Their driveway had been repaired, only to wash out again that evening when another three to four inches of rain fell. More rain fell June 25.
The Butterhead Blast and event in Zumbrota are just two of the dairy promotion events she's participated in thus far this year. Since being crowned in late April, she has served ice cream during bank appreciation events, rode in community parades and participated in a Minnesota Farmers Union Dairy Day Camp.
"We've been very, very busy," Schwartau said.
As soon as she was home from college in early May, the county's Princess Kay coordinator put the county's three princesses to work promoting dairy products. They visited all the area schools, plus some in Rochester.
"Our coordinator has been absolutely wonderful about arranging school visits," Schwartau said.
It was during one of the school visits in Rochester that she had her favorite princess moment. A student at Ben Franklin Elementary walked up to her and innocently asked why she wasn't wearing stinky clothes. The young man was under the impression that farmers always wore dirty clothes.
She explained that yes, farmers do wear stinky clothes when they are feeding calves or milking cows, but they clean up when they leave the farm, twirling a little in her dress.
Schwartau, 19, does get her hands — and jeans — dirty on the farm. She helps with calf chores on her family's 490-head primarily Holstein dairy operation during breaks and also works full time for her aunt and uncle, Kay and Dave Betcher. The Betchers have a 75-cow Holstein herd and Schwartau does pretty much everything there, from milking and mixing feed, to administering vaccinations.
This is her first year as a dairy princess. Goodhue County still has enough girls to have a competition, she said. Six girls ran last year and five this year. When her aunts ran, there were 12 or 16 girls, she said.
The top three girls are the county's princesses.
"I have always, always, always looked up to the county dairy princesses as a role model," Schwartau said.
Her mother encouraged her to run as did her sorority sisters. Once she was crowned, she set her sights on attaining the next level.
"I knew I was going to try to be a finalist," she said.
She picked the brain of her sorority sisters — six of last year's finalists were from Clovia — and ran her speeches by them.
She was the sixth finalist announced, but she didn't know it was her until the very end because there were so many similarities with other girls who were running. She found out later that her mother thought it was her from the very beginning and kept squeezing the hand of the woman next to her.
"It was such an overwhelming, special feeling" to be selected as one of the finalists, Schwartau said.
She is now making plans to outfit her supporters in construction neon yellow T-shirts for coronation — it's a tradition for supporters to dress alike to show their support.
"I want to be able to see my group from the stage," Schwartau said.
This will be the first time in six years Goodhue County has had a finalist of their own to cheer on. The county has never had a girl go on to become Princess Kay.