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Princess Kay hails from Morrison County

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - Mary Zahurones plans to continue thanking dairy farmers all yearlong for the opportunity to represent them as Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

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Mary Zahurones, center, of Pierz, is crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way on Aug. 24 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Looking on are runners up Theresa Twohey, left, of Stewartville, and Stephanie Kasper, of Owatonna.

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. - Mary Zahurones plans to continue thanking dairy farmers all yearlong for the opportunity to represent them as Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

Zahurones, 18, of Pierz, was crowned Princess Kay on Aug. 24, the night before the Minnesota State Fair opened. The ceremony took place at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell.

On opening day, Zahurones was at the fair by 5:30 a.m., following a short night back at the hotel.

"I got a very relaxing two-hour nap," she said.

Everything was still a little bit of a blur as she sat in the cooler, smiling and waving to passers-by and giving interviews. She said she needed to continue convincing herself that yes, she indeed was Princess Kay by glancing down at her sash and feeling the crown upon her head.

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"I knew that any one of the 12 (finalists) would be a wonderful choice for Princess Kay," Zahurones said.

Being crowned Princess Kay is the best moment of her life thus far and the few hours she'd been Princess Kay were so incredible, Zahurones said.

She planned to make a trip to the Miracle of Birth Center to see Princess Kay, the heifer calf named in her honor, and help the finalists promote Farmers Feed Us, an online educational effort to reach out to consumers as the fair progresses. As Zahurones sat in the cooler on Thursday, finalists Theresa Twohey and Kelsey Sellner worked the crowd, handing out trading cards made special for each finalist and sharing information about Farmers Feed Us.

Zahurones hails from a Holstein dairy in Morrison County, but she was a city girl until she was in fifth grade and her mother, Pat, married Chuck Tax and moved the family to the farm.

Her chore list went from cleaning the bathroom on Saturday to rising at 5 a.m. to clean behind the cows. She was the farm's chief scraper, but has moved up to milking cows. She prefers feeding calves and cows to milking, though.

Besides their 61-cow herd, the family also raises chickens for Golden Plump.

Zahurones is the youngest of six. She has one older sister and four older brothers.

As Princess Kay, she'll spend her year promoting the dairy industry at public appearances and she's share a message of how hard farmers work everyday to provide a quality, nutritious, wholesome product for consumers.

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The butter scraps generated in the process of sculpting her butterhead will go to family and friends as souvenirs and her butterhead will be shared at a community sweet corn feed. Her sponsors are sweet corn growers, Zahurones said.

She will be a pre-med student at the University of Minnesota this fall studying biology and chemistry.

The 12 finalists have an average GPA of 3.83, emcee Rod Johnson announced at coronation.

Stephanie Kasper of Owatonna, representing Steele County, and Theresa Twohey of

Stewartville, representing Olmsted County, were selected as runners-up. Twohey was

also named Miss Congeniality. Scholarships were awarded to Erin Daninger of Forest

Lake, representing Washington County, April Johnson of Heron Lake, representing

Cottonwood County, and Emily Krekelberg of Le Sueur, representing Le Sueur County.

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