Hollandale has a new Harvest Festival queen after 15 years

Published 4:49 pm Sunday, September 10, 2023

After a 15 year-hiatus, Hollandale has a new Harvest Festival queen, as Aubri Denherder was crowned with the title during a ceremony Saturday afternoon during the centennial celebration of Hollandale.

“There were a lot of good candidates out here,” she said, admitting she was surprised to learn she won.

The celebration was extra meaningful for her, as her aunt Patsy Slegh was the first harvest festival queen back in 1972. Another aunt, Amanda Slegh (Tiegen), was the last festival queen back in 2008.

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“That’s pretty cool,” Denherder said.

Denherder is a senior at Blooming Prairie High School.

Slegh, who served on the committee, said having a harvest festival queen provided the town a chance to celebrate the 1972 harvest.

“They wanted to do a big party,” she said. “We had a parade, and had sponsors in the businesses. We had queen candidates and then had the crowning.

But over time the festival started fading due to having fewer farmers in the area, though with the centennial they knew it was time to have a harvest queen again.

Allison Muilenburg, chair of the centennial, agreed with Slegh’s sentiment.

“It’s the 100 year celebration of Hollandale,” Muilenburg said. “We needed to bring it back for this year.”

Requirements for eligibility included being a ninth-, 10th-, 11th- or 12th-grade student and living within the 56045 zip code.

For candidates, each girl interested had to go out on their own, find a sponsor and ask them for a donation. Each donation each girl received will go into a scholarship for the winner, in this case Denherder.

Each candidate was required to write an essay describing what heritage meant to them.

Essays were handed to the committee with names blacked out. The committee then chose their top two candidates.

From there, the top four candidates were presented to the city council for a final vote, where they were asked to nominate two candidates.

Muilenburg described this year’s celebration as “amazing,” and was happy to see the crowds of people who showed up Saturday.

She also wanted to tell the participants they did an amazing job. She was also appreciative of the committee as well as the town and the support they showed.

The crowning of the queen dates back 51 years when Slegh was announced queen in 1972, though the last Harvest Festival with a queen was in 2008, 15 years ago.

Other girls competing for Harvest Festival queen included Olivia Vanderploeg, daughter of Connley and Erin Vanderploeg; Abigail and Gwyneth Brand, daughters of Matt and Amy Brand; Abbie Viktora, daughter of Dan and Elizabeth Viktora, Ariel-Star Anhalt, daughter of Anita and Randy Anhalt; Evelyn Ravenhorst, daughter of Mike and Betsy Ravenhorst; and Cloe Muilenburg, daughter of Chad and Allison Muilenburg.

Abigail Brand, who was named a Harvest Festival princess along with Vanderploeg, is a homeschooled 11th-grader.

“I thought it would be fun, a neat experience,” she said.

Amy Brand, Abigail’s mom, said having the crowning of the Harvest Festival queen was a great idea.

Muilenburg was named first runner-up.

The past 15 harvest queens — Patsy Slegh, Kris Posthumus, Joni Ver Hey (Groth), Joan Edwards, Gail Godeke, Kae Loverink, Kelly Tollefson, Paula Degen, Heather Wangen, Kim Anderson, Amber McCornack, Tiffany Van Reese (Smith), Angela Viktora (Drescher), Angela Weberg and Amanda Slegh (Tiegen) — were recognized before the introduction of this year’s candidates.

Claire Wangen stepped in for Heather Wangen.