Minnesota Royal draws attention to St. Paul campus

The 91-year tradition is a reminder of the University’s agricultural roots.

Allison Wickler

University alumnus Neil Durhman said in 1956, a horse-drawn covered wagon and a cattle showmanship competition in front of Coffman Union got some publicity for the St. Paul campus.

While Coffman Plaza is now cow-free, the 91st annual Minnesota Royal continued on the St. Paul campus last week in the tradition of bringing attention to St. Paul.

Each year since 1916, a team of students has organized a week of events to promote and learn from the University’s history in agriculture, said animal science senior and executive team chairman Tyler Bullerman.

The Minnesota Royal king crowned last Monday, animal science and biotechnology senior Andrew Bents, said, “It’s very comparable if you combine homecoming and the county fair.”

Eight St. Paul student groups competed in events including an agriculture quiz bowl, milkmaid contest, a “Stock the Trailer” food drive, the “Ag Olympics” and an animal-calling competition.

The week culminated Saturday with the animal showmanship competition, which students began preparing for early in the semester, he said.

Bullerman said the week is mostly centered on St. Paul students because many of them have agricultural backgrounds. The executive team tried to encourage participation on the Minneapolis campus, but didn’t receive a strong response.

Bents, who is also president of the Delta Theta Sigma fraternity, said continuing Minnesota Royal each year reminds people that the University was originally established on an agricultural foundation.

“It’s nice to see the University’s roots,” he said.

Durhman, who was chairman of the events in 1956, said each St. Paul academic department used to have an open house during Minnesota Royal to draw in more people from outside the University.

“It was really quite a celebration,” he said.

Recent years have shown a decrease in attendance, likely because more campus opportunities are available, Mary Buschette, director of alumni relations for the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, said.

Even though the crowds are no longer as big as he remembers, Durhman said Minnesota Royal is a learning opportunity and gives students pride in the college.

Animal science and equine production sophomore Mallory Peterson said she worked with a student more experienced with dairy cattle to learn about and show a dairy cow in the showmanship competition.

She said Minnesota Royal helps students form friendships with other groups on campus and learn something new.

“I don’t know anything about cows,” she said, “and I can join.”