When I received the email request to appear in the State Fair parade, I nearly jumped out of my high heels! The great Minnesota Get Together is visited by record breaking numbers each year. This year alone over 1.9 people attended, and my family and I were among them only this year I got a very special seat.
As a state titleholder with the International system, myself and my sister queens (the Miss, the Teen and the pre-teen) were all invited to ride the Queen’s float! It was thirty minutes of smiles, waves and laughter as we watched the crowd mirror back to us the official “royal wave.” We were surprised and delighted to see how familiar this royal hand-swaying gesture really is and we had to admit that many in the crowd had it mastered even better than we did!
As we arrived on the grounds, our float awaited us like a chariot waiting to enter a royal processional. As the other minnesota royalty arrived, we each took our place on benches and platforms to prepare for the 40 minute ride. The girls, all in their beautiful sparkling gowns, banners and crowns, I was the least “formal” as my family and I had plans to visit the animal barns at enjoy at least one tub of the fair’s famous “Martha’s Cookies!”
There’s truly nothing like watching thousands of strangers display smiles and waves of kindness, knowing that you represent their community and state with pride and grace.
Several times as we moved along the streets of the parade grounds, I heard my name yelled from the crowd and would look up with delight to see a familiar friend! One familiar voice especially caught my attention (the voice of my husband) and as I heard my name being called I frantically searched the sea of faces to find his. It took me several seconds but at least I saw my husband and our line of kids all along the curb smiling and waving with pride. My heart skipped a beat as I saw their faces, especially my son Benjamin for whom if it were not for his brave journey through what we know as “autism” I wouldn’t be up there as a representative not only of our beautiful state, but also of our precious and invaluable neuro-diverse community. I swallowed back a tear, blew them a kiss and proceeded to scan the crowd for new and excited little faces.
After the parade my family and I enjoyed touring Minnesota’s businesses at the grand stand, marveling at record breaking, award winning livestock, and indeed indulging in funnel cakes, cookies and pronto pups!
I have never been so proud to be a Minnesotan, and to represent the title of Mrs. Minnesota International than on that day among hundreds of thousands of friends and neighbors on a picture perfect August day!