A week of agricultural events brings students out in herds

Wednesday night’s milkmaid competition showed St. Paul’s dairy prowess.

Junior Rebekah LaBerge milks a cow in the milk maid contest Wednesday night at the Dairy Barn in St Paul.

Image by Anthony Kwan

Junior Rebekah LaBerge milks a cow in the milk maid contest Wednesday night at the Dairy Barn in St Paul.

by Emily Cutts

In an outfit inspired by Ke$ha, Caitlin Kasper looked like she could be attending a party. She milked a cow during a contest Wednesday with gold glitter on her face, black leggings and purple leopard print heels.

Kasper is a royalty candidate in the 95th annual Minnesota Royal, a week of agriculture-related events held each year on the University of MinnesotaâÄôs St. Paul campus, which brings together nine greek and agricultural organizations.

âÄúItâÄôs fun,âÄù animal sciences professor Jeff Reneau said. âÄúThese students have a great time. I think itâÄôs a great tradition.âÄù

While the week has an executive committee responsible for arranging locations and securing proper permits, each group that participates is responsible for planning one of the weekâÄôs events.

Running until Saturday, events have included royalty voting, a milkmaid contest, a concert by the Johnny Holm Band and a showmanship competition on Saturday, among others.

The Milkmaid Contest, held Wednesday night in the Dairy Barn, brought a large crowd to watch royalty candidates hand milk a cow while other members of their organizations performed hit songs with lyrics changed to reflect the event.

The songs were catchy, with one group changing the lyrics to a Lonely Island tune to âÄúI just drank milk,âÄù and a Ke$ha track to âÄúTonight weâÄôre milking cow-cow-c-c-c-cows.âÄù

The most memorable song of night was Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond changed to âÄúSweet Cow of Mine.âÄù The lyric that got the loudest reaction: âÄúhands, touching teat, watching me, milking you.âÄù

The performances were judged by faculty and staff of the University.

Matt Coakley, a freshmen admissions counselor for the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, judged the milkmaid competition for the first time this year.

Coakley said he based his scores on the costuming as well as the overall enthusiasm of the group.

As part of her duties as a MNRoyal queen candidate, Kasper competed in the milkmaid contest Wednesday night. Kasper was responsible for milking a cow for one minute while the king candidate, Mike Donnelly, kept the cow in place.

Kasper, who grew up on a dairy farm, said her strategy was similar to how a cow would normally be milked, except she couldnâÄôt use a machine.

Squatting next to the cow with a pail beneath the utters, Kasper stroked the hind leg trying to calm the kicking cow.

âÄúThere was one teat that gave a lot of milk and the other ones, she wasnâÄôt letting her milk down. She was probably just nervous,âÄù Kasper said of her cow.

Most of the candidates came with previous milking experience but not all excelled at their duties.

The winning group, Lamda Delta Phi sorority, produced 308 milliliters of milk while Beta of Clovia Sorority produced only 2 milliliters.

A Holstein cow can produce an average of 50 lbs of milk per five minute machine milking session.

Earlier in the day, 59 students and one faculty member participated in the Royal Run, a two-mile course on the State Fair grounds.

Reneau, who participated in the run as the only faculty member, said he wished for more participation but does the run when he can.