August 16, 2021 at 1:46 p.m.
A year of opportunity despite uncertainty
Before running for a finalist, I was beginning my second year as the Olmsted County Dairy Princess. I was so excited to continue sharing my dairy story and helping others find their love of delicious dairy foods. Little did we know how much our lives would change in just a few short months. However, through the uncertainty came an opportunity: to run as a finalist for Princess Kay of the Milky Way. I saw an opportunity ahead of me, one that scared me, but one I knew would push me out of my comfort zone. I had dreamed of becoming a finalist and being like all the girls I had watched as a young girl getting their likenesses sculpted into 90 pounds of butter. I followed my heart, and it was exactly where I was meant to be and what I was supposed to do among the uncertainty of everything.
It is incredible to think that I would not be in this role today if it were not for one specific event that happened over 15 years ago. At the age of 6, I was given the opportunity to show my very first registered Holstein calf, Cocoa, at the county fair alongside my cousins. After the judge asked me several questions, he awarded my very first ribbon along with a new rope halter. I was ecstatic. I fell in love with showing cattle and never looked back. This moment sparked the passion for dairy I have today.
This past year has allowed me to make unforgettable memories, travel thousands of miles and meet the most amazing people. I was able to share with people the stories of the kind, passionate, driven and innovative Minnesota dairy farmers that I represent. I attended virtual classroom visits, dairy days, parades, nursing homes, daycares and Fuel Up to Play 60 events. I was able to connect with people in unique ways. In addition to events, I took to social media to reach new audiences in creative ways. I am forever grateful for this opportunity that has been given to me.
I like to think about this quote from Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” If you would have told the shy 6-year-old girl showing her very first calf at the county fair that she would be confident enough and experienced enough to be Princess Kay of the Milky Way, I wouldn’t have believed you. I’ve learned to chase my big dreams and to be bold and brave.
As for my advice to the next Princess Kay, future finalists and young girls, embrace opportunities and push yourselves along the way. Being a dairy princess will help you grow in ways you never thought imaginable, so share your stories and enjoy every moment. Be patient and creative. The way of doing things may look different than in years past, but sometimes change is good, and it opens the door for new opportunities. Use your unique voice in this role by sharing the passion you have for dairy that is in your heart. People love genuine people, and they can tell when you are passionate and true. Lastly, wherever you go in this world, find what you are passionate about and be brave enough to use your voice.
It has been my honor to represent you, the hard-working dairy farmers of Minnesota, for the past year. Thank you for this opportunity, and I will cherish this experience for a lifetime.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Brenna Connelly serves as the Minnesota dairy community’s goodwill ambassador. Throughout the year, Princess Kay helps people understand the dedication of dairy farmers to wholesome and nutritious food, and the way milk is produced. Princess Kay does many school presentations, represents dairy farmers at the Fuel Up To Play 60 events that are held in conjunction with the Minnesota Vikings, and is very active during June Dairy Month sharing the importance of dairy farming and dairy foods.
Brenna grew up in Byron, Minnesota, working on her cousin’s dairy farm. She is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, studying Agricultural Communication and Marketing. When she is not showing cattle or participating in dairy judging, she loves to read and travel.