Kolacky court gets a lesson in "Kween" history

Jarrod Schoenecker

Jarrod Schoenecker photo

Joan Zahratka, the 1957 Kolacky Days Queen and a past grand marshal, talks to the group about her experience as queen and in the Miss Centennial Minnesota pageant.

Monday evening was a history lesson for the Kolacky Queen candidates for this year at the Arts and Heritage Center.

Local historian Dale Ruhland, seen at the left in the group photo and next to the current royalty, briefly spoke about a few historical items, and Jim Mladek followed with a more thorough wrap-up of Kolacky Days throughout the years. Mladek said, “My challenge to you (candidates) is to do some of your own research on your own heritage.”

Montgomery Area Community Club (MACC) board member Tom Washa shared photographs and newspaper clippings from Kolacky Days past and shared its history around the state and country.

Washa said that the first year they spelled queen like “kween.” He also said that our festival inspired some festivals in the Twin Cities that did not have any sort of gathering of the kind at the time — such as the Minneapolis Aquatennial, the Hopkins Raspberry Festival and the St. Cloud Winter Carnival. Members of MACC even attended and represented Montgomery at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. Believe it or not, airplane rides were something you could partake in if you attended Kolacky Days in 1937.

The 1957 Kolacky Queen and a former grand marshal, Joan Zahratka, spoke about her experiences as queen and answered questions from the current candidates. She says, “I didn’t really want to do it but here I was!” Although she said she wasn’t really in it to be a queen, Zahratka says it is one of the most fond periods of time she has had, and she still has her dress from being queen. Zahratka also represented Montgomery in the 1958 search for Miss Centennial Minnesota.

Both experiences Zahratka was fond of and said she didn’t think that she could do it or maybe wasn’t as talented as those she was up against. Either way, she said that she learned and found out she could do it. She encouraged the young ladies who are candidates to embrace their journey and other ones that come along.

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