Olivia Wendland was crowned the 2024 Miss Milbank during the 2023 Snow Queen Festival presented by The Valley Express. Olivia, a senior at MHS and the daughter of Josh and Susie Wendland, was selected from a field of 17 contestants. Olivia was sponsored by Milbank House Movers, Milbank Area Hospital – Avera, and Capture The Moment Photography.
Stella Wendland was selected as the first runner-up. Cailey Sime daughter of Kent and Susan Sime was the second runner-up. Each of the three winners receives a scholarship. Hope Karels, daughter of Jason and Susan Karels, was selected as Miss Congeniality. The new Little Miss Milbank, Brooklyn Gertsema, is the daughter of Tyler and Takara Gertsema. Little Miss Milbank was chosen (by chance) from a group of 27 kindergarten princesses.
Cassidy Schwagel, Miss Milbank 2023, and Tenley Adelman, Little Miss Milbank 2023, crowned their successors. Schwagel presented her farewell address, and Adelman, age six, also spoke to the audience about her experience as Little Miss Milbank.
The event marked the 60th Anniversary of the Snow Queen Festival in Milbank. This year’s Festival was dedicated to the memory of Linda (née Wise) Stengel, who reigned as Miss Milbank 1964.
To celebrate six decades, The Valley Express gave away $60 cash prizes throughout the evening. During intermission, the audience played trivia with their emcee, Krista Atyeo-Gortmaker, and additional prizes were awarded. Mrs. Elizabeth Schulte played solo piano as a background.
The Mystery Snowman was revealed to be Lester Bloem, former mathematics teacher at MHS, who has remained a devoted fan of student activities. Ginny Tostenson was the first reader to identify Bloem as Frosty and submit her guess to The Valley Express. She won $160 in Ol’ Mill Bucks.
Olivia will now advance to the South Dakota State Snow Queen Festival in Aberdeen in January 2024.