The Minnesota State Fair is not just an event.
It’s also a parade of highly specific rituals we treasure, and by which the rest of the nation is largely baffled. Like watching a ton of freshswater fish get last rites to appear in (or create) pieces in the crop art competition this year.
On Tuesday, Twitter found out about Princess Kay of the Milky Way, the earnest 20-something nominated each year to represent the state’s dairy farms and have her likeness sculpted out of a 90-pound block of butter.
It started with little, innocuous questions. ‘Who’s Princess Kay?’ and ‘What is a Butterhead?’
Once referenced butter sculptures to a coworker (not from here) and she stared at me blankly.— Jake Nelson (@JakeNelsonMN) August 27, 2018
"You know, like at the Fair..."
"Princess Kay of the Milky Way..."
"That's the most Midwestern thing I've ever heard." https://t.co/QSymGQmTI6
We do the butter carving here as well but hold the phone! What's this?! "Princess Kay of the Milky Way"!!??! We have no Princess! Ontario, we've been ripped off again! Add this to the list! @LetsGoToTheEX— Kay Marten (@KayMarten) August 28, 2018
I'm confused about the photos ON the butter slabs. Will they be made into butter busts like the one in the middle?— Bonnie Burton (@bonniegrrl) August 26, 2018
Followed by the inevitable.
The look the kid gave me when I explained that sometimes the teenage girls sit in the rotating display case in winter coats while their likenesses are carved live was <chefs kiss> https://t.co/0FmCIKqT9K— bag of moons (@bagofmoons) August 26, 2018
And the ‘like seriously, what.'
I overheard some teen boys at the State Fair who planned to go to the Dairy Building to watch the butter sculpting & they wondered if "the Dairy Queen" would be there. She is PRINCESS KAY OF THE MILKY WAY, show some respect.— Lisa Beaudry (@LisaMBeaudry) August 24, 2018
We of course know that Princess Kay is a thing. It’s a tradition 65 years in the making. Candidates for the honor are judged on their knowledge of and general enthusiasm for the dairy industry. The winner gets to make grand appearances at the State Fair and beyond, and sit in a cooler for like six hours so a butter artist can sculpt her head from butter.
The butter sculptures themselves range from “oddly similar” to “haunting.” When the fair is over, the princesses get to take their heads home and do God knows what with them.
We all know this.
But it’s fun every now and again to be reminded that as fellow residents of this state, there are certain things we share. We may fight in our passive-aggressive way, but we all know who Princess Kay of the Milky Way is, and we have not for an instant stopped to consider that it might be weird.
And in that moment, our weird, buttery hearts beat as one.
I love seeing all these people talking about Princess Kay of the Milky Way because honesty in Minnesota that's just so natural that we dont think about what it seems like to outsiders— Leanna ☆ (@neymarsexual) August 28, 2018