By Jennie Zeitler
Although seasoned farm wife Kathi Molitor did not grow up on a farm, she has now spent 27 years living the farm life near Elrosa. Twenty of those years, she milked alongside her husband, Al.
The Molitor family’s dairy farm has been in the family since 1961. Newlyweds Al and Kathi moved back from the Twin Cities in 1986 and took over the farm when Al’s father wanted to retire.
The 325-acre farm is planted in corn and alfalfa, fed to their dairy herd of about 80 cows. They maintain a total of about 225 head.
Kathi grew up in Glencoe and met Al in college.
“I didn’t think about farming at the time,” she said. “It all turned out so great. Milking is good family time.”
The Molitor children — Tyson, newly married to Michelle, Stearns County Dairy Princess Trisha and Tiana — grew up milking cows and hauling bales.
“(Trisha and Tiana) were both in dancing too,” said Kathi. “They were always princesses at heart.”
That delight with being a princess took on a realistic tone when Trisha was chosen to be a dairy princess in 2013.
“Someone suggested she should run,” said Kathi, who was on the American Dairy Association Board of Directors at one time. “We all went to many parades and ice cream events during that time.”
Trisha enjoyed her year as dairy princess so much that she chose to run again this year.
“I decided to run again because I had such a great experience last year,” she said. “I love talking to people and expressing my thoughts on issues the dairy industry faces today.”
But there was another just-as-compelling reason.
“I mostly wanted to run again because I wanted to share this rewarding experience with my sister. We have so much fun together,” she said.
This year, Tiana Molitor is also a candidate for Stearns County Dairy Princess.
“I am running because I am proud of what my family and I do, and I want to promote the dairy industry,” said Tiana.
“I’m just amazed at how much they need to know about the dairy industry,” Kathi said. “They need to know how they can be a good representative.”
Tenure as a dairy princess includes a wide variety of activities, most within the county where a princess lives. These could be school visits, parades and business meetings.
The first step in becoming a dairy princess is to fill out an application and submit it to the county coordinator. Those who apply are invited to attend a gathering, usually in February, where they meet local dairy representatives.
Dairy princesses and ambassadors are announced at a banquet in March. The princesses are eligible to attend May Event — a gathering at the College of St. Benedict each year in May where 12 finalists are chosen to compete for the title “Princess Kay of the Milky Way.”
“About 65 girls run for Princess Kay,” said Kathi. “They have to prepare a speech ahead of time and they participate in mock radio interviews and are judged on those.”
This year the 60th Princess Kay will be crowned in August, the night before the State Fair opens in St. Paul. Only one Princess Kay has hailed from Stearns County: Christine Reitsma was the 58th Princess Kay.
“It was exciting to have Christine so close,” Kathi said. Reitsma lives just a handful of miles from the Molitors.
The benefits to the princess extend much further than she may have anticipated.
“I have so many lasting memories and I have strengthened my communication skills immensely,” Trisha said.
A junior at North Dakota State University majoring in crop and weed science with a minor in agribusiness, Trisha will be working for Bayer CropSciences this summer.
“I love agriculture and I learn about it every day of my life, so it’s a big part of who I am,” she said.