Even earlier than being “sashed” as 2023 Klondike Kate on Wednesday night time, Stillwater native Maret Bylander embodied the legendary Winter Carnival character.
Throughout her first-round efficiency of the burlesque traditional “Let Me Entertain You,” Bylander, then sporting a costume adorned with a black boa and a peacock-green feather headdress, appeared out on the cheering crowd behind the judges’ desk.
“Whats up all people, my title is Kate!” Bylander exclaimed. “What’s yours?”
5 girls competed for the title Jan. 11 in a packed ballroom on the DoubleTree by Hilton resort on St. Paul’s East Aspect. The competition, impressed by a real-life Gold Rush entertainer named Klondike Kate, has chosen a brand new “mistress of enjoyable, frivolity and good fellowship” earlier than the Winter Carnival nearly yearly since 1971. (The 2020 Kate, Shelley Pabst, served for 2 years on account of Covid-19.)
A number of hundred individuals had been cheering on the contenders; so many confirmed up that resort employees had to herald further chairs on the final minute to accommodate them. Some within the viewers jokingly cursed the title of Vulcanus Rex, the Carnival’s fireplace king character, for making the room really feel so heat.
Different Kate contestants wowed the gang, too. Jody Vander Hart of Vadnais Heights — who, as she famous in her official bio, was “born to be a singer” since Singer is her maiden title — belted out spectacular renditions of R&B classics like Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Obtained You” and the Nina Simone hit “Feeling Good.” And onetime native radio DJ Kat Connery, church choir singer Toni Coffey and carnival volunteer Teri Theno-Erb had viewers members singing alongside, too.
Nevertheless it was Bylander who in the end stole the present. The most recent Kate is a 16-year veteran of the Oakdale present choir group Harmonic Reduction and mentioned she’s been coming to Winter Carnival occasions since at the least the Eighties. She was additionally a contestant final yr when Tina Hacker of Plymouth was in the end topped the 2022 Kate.
After Bylander earned the sash, we caught up with the brand new Klondike Kate in between picture ops to ask a couple of questions.
Q: You actually embodied Kate onstage tonight—inform me concerning the first second in your life that you simply actually felt like Klondike Kate.
A: I knew I used to be Klondike Kate method again once I noticed Klondike Kate. I’d say that was again within the ’90s. However I by no means had the boldness to do it again then.
In order I acquired older and embraced the Winter Carnival extra, that is once I realized how a lot enjoyable it’s, and the way a lot Kate is a part of the legend. I really like the legend of Kate, and studying the story of her from her.
Q: What does it imply so that you can keep it up the legacy of each the true Klondike Kate and the generations of previous Winter Carnival Kates?
A: That is what this entire skirt is about. She (the unique ’71 Kate, Carol Carney) began out very younger, and likewise she by no means retired! Not till her dying of her did she retire Kate as effectively. This skirt is (much like) her de ella signature skirt de ella — it was glittery, and he or she would roll it behind her prefer it was fireplace.
My stepson is a classic costume designer and did the historical past of Klondike Kate, and designed this skirt for me for that goal.
Q: What did it really feel wish to be on stage in entrance of a crowd like this one?
A: I am used to that; I sing in a bunch, however I’ve by no means been on a stage all on my own like this. It was very—an adrenaline rush! Actually, actually having fun with this.
Q: And eventually, what are you most trying ahead to about formally being Klondike Kate for this yr?
A: I am trying ahead, No. 1, to the ten days of Carnival, as a result of I’ve by no means been concerned in all 10 days. I have been concerned in several items of it: the coronation, the (North, East, West and South) Wind Dinners, the parades. However truly being concerned and being part of the expertise—I actually am trying ahead to that.