MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s safe to say that a lot of people are missing the traditional Minnesota State Fair this year.

Donna Moenning of Hayfield is no exception, but she can get her hands on a 40-year-old piece of State Fair history simply by opening her freezer.

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Dairy farming is in her blood. In fact, she won the Lac Qui Parle County Dairy Princess competition in 1980. Then she won the region to advance to the Minnesota State Fair as one of 12 Princess Kay of the Milky Way finalists.

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“The opportunity to come down and be a part of that Minnesota State fair, wow,” Moenning said. “It opened up my world.”

She didn’t take home the crown, but she did take home something just as savory. Just like today, Princess Kay finalists in 1980 were sculpted out of butter. Moenning decided back then she would keep hers, and through various stages of life, she never lost her head.

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Donna Moenning (credit: CBS)

Forty years later, it sits in the freezer next to the pot roast — and word has spread like butter on toast.

“They’re amazed [laughs]! They’re amazed!” Moenning said. “It is an iconic piece of Minnesota State Fair history. So the fact that I have a little piece of it in the freezer is very, you know, unique to a lot of people.”

Her likeness was carved out of a 60-pound block of butter back then. The 80s hair is still intact. She will bring the sculpture out when people ask, but her main reason for keeping it is to remind her of her roots, and to celebrate Minnesota farmers — especially dairy farmers.

“Truly it is about the people you meet, and the lessons you learn. You take those with you,” Moenning said. “It’s just good … It’s good like butter.”

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John Lauritsen