What does 270 pounds of butter look like?


“Everything is better with butter.” This was commonly heard around our house growing up. As a dairy farm family, it was natural to find a pound or two of butter in our fridge at all times. What is not so common is the approximately 270 pounds of butter currently in my parents’ deep freezer. How it got there is a story our family loves to share.My parents met at the Minnesota State Fair. My dad was exhibiting his dairy cattle and my mom, a student at the University of Minnesota, was working in the fair’s milking parlor. She grew up on Chicago’s south side and had never previously milked a cow but wanted to learn. Five years later they were married and dairy farming south of Hutchinson, Minn. They raised my brother, two sisters and I to know the meaning and satisfaction of a hard day’s work, and the importance of caring for our cows. Each year we would attend the Minnesota State Fair and share in the excitement of Minnesota’s dairy industry as a new Princess Kay of the Milky Way was crowned.

My mom, Laura Olson, and the butter heads of her three daughters during a photo shoot with the Star Tribune in 2010.

Looking back 11 years ago to the night I was crowned the 49th Princess Kay, I see it as a special chapter in my family’s story. The year that followed was life changing and rewarding. I enjoyed every opportunity I was given to tell others about my life on the farm and the importance of including three servings of dairy foods into their daily diets. And, of course, answering questions about the 90 pounds of butter carved to look just like me.

Yes, we still have my butter head. And the butter heads of my sister, Lana — a Princess Kay Finalist in 2005 — and my sister, Elizabeth — the 56th Princess Kay of the Milky Way crowned in 2009. Why do we still have them? My parent’s response would be, “Why not?” And over time I have come to agree — they truly are a special piece of our family’s story we don’t want to see melt away.

The live version of the three Olson butter heads. My sisters Lana, Elizabeth and I, far right, at the 2010 Princess Kay of the Milky Way banquet.

Like many young dairy farm girls, my first employer was my dad. Then I worked for Minnesota’s dairy farmers as their Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Today I work as the communications director for the dairy farmer-owners of Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI), a leading Midwest milk marketing cooperative.

Call it ironic or maybe even fate, but I love the fact that I now work for the longtime supplier of the butter blocks for the Princess Kay butter heads. Every year I’m excited for the young women who will be able to answer the unique question of what it’s like to have their head carved from a 90-pound block of butter. It’s a wonderful story they and their families can be proud to share for many years to come.

Sarah Olson Schmidt

About Sarah Olson Schmidt

Sarah Olson Schmidt has been working with dairy farmers since her father first taught her how to feed baby calves on their family’s farm 60 miles west of the Twin Cities in Hutchinson, Minn.

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