Stewartville woman, Delano man named poultry royalty
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 09/20/2012 9:43 AM
Minnesota has new poultry royalty.
Eleni Solberg, 17, Stewartville, and August Otto, 16, Delano, were named the state's Poultry Princess and Prince on Aug. 26 at the Minnesota State Fair. Last year's winners, Brandon Severns of Good Thunder in Blue Earth County and Amy Anderson of Cambridge in Isanti County passed on the feathered royal garb.
Their first official duty was participating in the Aug. 26 state fair parade. Throughout their yearlong reign, Otto and Solberg will promote poultry in a variety of ways. Otto is looking forward to participating in parades and conducting poultry showmanship workshops. Likewise, Solberg is
excited to represent the poultry industry in parades.
The Poultry Prince and Princess program is in its third year. The scholarship program recognizes the knowledge and leadership skills of Minnesota's youth in the poultry industry. The princess and prince each receive a $1,000 scholarship.
Solberg, the daughter of Duane and Lynae, is a member of the Rural Rookies 4-H Club in Racine. She submitted an application to compete for Poultry Princess about a week before the state fair. Candidates must compete in the poultry competition at the Minnesota State Fair to qualify.
Solberg showed a bantam breeding trio of Wyandotte chickens at the state fair. She has a 4-H chicken flock at home and she also starts and sells chickens to other 4-H'ers who want to show chickens.
Her Fillmore County 4-H Poultry Bowl coach, Nora Gathje, talked her in to competing.
Otto, the son of Mark and Denise, is a member of the Willing Workers 4-H Club in Wright County. He competed in the poultry ambassador program last year and really wanted to win this year.
He showed two Cornish Rock crosses at the state fair. His family has a hobby farm where they raise geese, ducks, chickens and pigeons.
During the Poultry Prince and Princess Contest, which took place Aug. 23-26, candidates must participate and rank highly in poultry showmanship.
They must also barbecue four chicken halves and participate in a question-and-answer competition that tests their poultry knowledge, confidence and personality.
Solberg did well in showmanship, which is the handler's ability to handle his or her bird and answer questions about it, and the Q-and-A competition, which includes everything from identifying chicken parts and judging poultry carcasses to placing a class of chickens and giving reasons why you placed them that way. For her, the toughest competition was barbecuing chicken.
She took a crash course in barbecuing chicken from Paul McCartan, a friend's father, and put together a list of what she needed to bring to the fair.
"I did pretty good on the procedure part, it just didn't taste the greatest," Solberg said.
Otto, on the other hand, placed first in the chicken barbecue contest last year and competed at the national level in the chicken barbecue. This year, he again took first place at the state and will either barbecue a turkey or do something called egg prep at the national competition in
November in Louisville, Ky.
He learned to barbecue from his mother the summer after eighth grade. His rub that was too spicy and salty for some people so he modified it. He has competed in the chicken barbecue contest at the state fair three times.
His award-winning rub is a secret concoction. The rub has a sweet, spicy flavor that he seals in with a glaze that he bastes on the chicken.
Being poultry prince is an opportunity to share his poultry pride and he encourages others who show poultry and have completed ninth grade to give the contest a try.
The Poultry Prince and Princess Contest is sponsored by Minnesota 4-H and Gold'n Plump.