Meet the 2017 Willmar Fests Candidates

This year we welcome ten young women who will be vying to represent the City of Willmar as Willmar Fests Queen of Festivals, International Princess and Aqua Princess. 

Here you can find out more about each of our candidates.

Ashley Olson is the 19-year-old daughter of Tim and Cindy Olson. She is a 2016 highest honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Ashley was very involved in music and participated in band, choir, jazz band, jazz choir and musicals. Her junior and senior year, Ashley was selected to be in All-State Band, and participated in All-Conference Jazz Band both years as well, and All-Conference Concert Band her senior year. She also lettered in dance and performed on varsity high kick and jazz team for all four years, as well as receiving All Conference Kick her senior year. Ashley was also a Courage and Respect retreat leader and part of the National Honors Society. Throughout high school, Ashley became very involved in her church and joined the Southwestern Minnesota Synod Lutheran Youth Organization Board her freshman year and became vice president her senior year. Through the opportunities given through this board, Ashley is now a member of the Theme Discernment Team as well as the Community Life Planning Team for the ELCA’s 2018 National Youth Gathering in Houston. Ashley is currently furthering her education at Concordia College in Moorhead, where she plans to get a Bachelors of Music with a major in Music Education and has been on the Dean’s List for both semesters. She is still involved in both band and choir at college and became section leader for the Symphonic Band clarinet section. Ashley currently works at the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center and will be a Residential Assistant at Concordia for the 2017-2018 school year. In her free time, Ashley enjoys napping, spending time outside with her friends and family, practicing instruments, reading, and taking pictures of the sky. Ashley’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Heritage Bank.

Chloe Rebekka Halvorson is the 19-year-old daughter of Rhonda Otteson and Matthew and Jennifer Halvorson. She graduated in 2016 from Willmar Senior High School, earning High Honors with distinction. In high school, Chloe participated in Knowledge Bowl, yearbook, set crew for the musicals, and National Honor Society. She was a youth group leader for the Respect and Courage retreats, and she managed the Willmar varsity softball team for four years. As a student in the Kandiyohi CEO class, Chloe earned the Best in Show scholarship for her trade show booth. Outside of school, she worked in her church’s nursery, as a dietary aid, and as a hostess at Green Mill. She was an elected member of the SW MN Synod Lutheran Youth Organization board, and helped plan four youth gatherings that impacted over 2,000 youth. Chloe attended Concordia Language Villages to learn Norwegian and was awarded the World of Friendship Medallion. In addition to school and extra curricular activities, Chloe enjoys volunteering in her community, including meal packaging, making care packages, doing roadside clean-up, and event prep for The Link and its Ribfest fundraiser. She attended the ELCA National Youth Gathering in New Orleans to help paint schools in areas affected by hurricane Katrina. In 2015 she went on a mission trip to strengthen church relations South Africa. Chloe is continuing her education at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN and pursuing a business degree with a concentration in analytics or management and marketing. She made it on the Dean’s List and ended the year with a GPA of 4.0. At Hamline, Chloe participates in the Do All the Good pathways, the Hamline Environmental Action League, and is a tutor at Hamline Elementary. Chloe is a bookworm that enjoys watching movies, drawing, visiting new places, and spending time with family and friends. Chloe’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Anderson, Larson, Saunders, Klaassen & Dahlager, PLLP.

Jenna Jagow is the 19-year-old daughter of Will and Sarah Jagow. She is a 2016 honors and academic distinction graduate from Willmar Senior High School. During her time in high school, Jenna was involved in choir, yearbook committee, and the KCEO program through which she started her own business. Jenna also received varsity letters in swimming and academics. She was chosen by her teammates to be a swimming captain her senior year. Jenna was a student leader at both the Courage and Respect Retreats. Jenna was chosen as a student representative for the Rotary Club. She enjoyed being a part of her church’s youth group while she was in high school. During her senior year, Jenna became a Certified Nursing Assistant after volunteering at Copperleaf Assisted Living. She is now enrolled at South Dakota State University where she is a pre-nursing major and psychology minor. She made the Dean’s List both semesters of her freshman year. She hopes to one day become a nurse anesthetist in a children’s hospital. Jenna is currently a lifeguard at the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center. In her spare time, Jenna enjoys camping with her family, being outdoors, traveling, working out, cooking, and spending time with her friends. Jenna’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Divine Home Care & Hospice.

Jennifer Gratz is the 19-year-old daughter of Michael and Joy Gratz. She is a 2016 high honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Jennifer was involved in diving, yearbook, and National Honor Society. At her church, Jennifer helped with church activities; one being vacation bible school. She also participated in her church’s youth group. Jennifer is currently involved in a venture crew, which is through the Boy Scouts and is a mentor through the Kandiyohi County YMCA’s mentor program. She is attending Ridgewater and is undecided on a major, though she enjoys math and science and is thinking about pursuing a major in those areas. Jennifer currently works at Caribou Coffee in Willmar as a shift supervisor. She also works at the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center during the summer. In her free time, Jennifer enjoys spending time with close family and friends, reading, creating art, playing different types of games, being outdoors, and traveling. Jennifer’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Slumberland Furniture.

Lily Sombke is the 19 year old daughter of Kimberly and Brock Sombke. She is a 2016 honors graduate of Willmar Senior High School. In high school, she was involved in choir, band, jazz band, and was president of 2701, an accapella choir. Lily was also involved in the school musicals, becoming the lead in The King and I her senior year. She also was chosen for CLC’s Honor Choir. In youth group Lily was a small group leader for Junior High students and was the Youth Worship Director. She was also involved in Youth for Christ’s worship team, OnCall and coached dance with Just For Kix. Lily is currently attending North Central University in Minneapolis, studying Music, Youth Ministry, and Theater. She is involved in two choirs, jazz band, and was selected to go on tour with one of the school’s worship bands next year. In Minneapolis, Lily is employed as a part – time nanny, piano teacher, and Worship Director. While home, she is employed at Walt’s, PFF, the Stingers, and teaches private piano/voice lessons. In her free time Lily likes to be outside, play with her brothers, hang out with friends and family, and travel. Lily’s Willmar Fest Sponsor is Bremer Bank.

Mary Carlson is the 18 year-old daughter of Michael and Elizabeth Carlson. She is a 2016 highest honor with distinction graduating from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Mary was very active in 4-H, Student Council, National Honor Society, Knowledge Bowl, musicals, Speech, orchestra, trap shooting, choir, and solo ensemble. During high school, Mary hosted four blood drives with the American Red Cross. Mary was an active volunteer at St. Mary’s Catholic Church as an altar server, vacation bible school leader, little ones music leader, youth choir, and a peer mentoring group leader. Mary was a 2015 Girls State senator and a 2016 Girls State Counselor. Mary is currently attending the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, MN. She is majoring in Biology on the pre-health track with minors in Catholic Studies and in Philosophy. At. St. Thomas, Mary works with admissions as a “Tommie Ambassador,” she is a student worker at Saint Paul Seminary, and also works with Off Campus Events and Services. Mary is on the executive board for both the Pre-Health Professionals Club and the Students for Human Life Club. Mary regularly volunteers at a local church in St. Paul and at the Little Sisters of the Poor: Holy Family Residence, for the elderly. Mary has made the dean’s lists both semesters of her freshman year. In her free time, Mary likes to laugh, cook, run, read, be outside, and spend time with friends and family. Mary’s sponsor is Conway, Deuth & Schmiesing, PLLP.

MaQuelah Schueler is the 18-year-old daughter of Brian and Kristine Schueler. She is a 2016 Honors graduate from the Willmar Senior High School. While in high school MaQuelah participated in Band, Choir, Orchestra, FFA, Yearbook, and National Honors Society. Throughout her life she has been involved in 4-H where she is an active member in the Horse project. Here she rides, trains and spends quality time with her horses. She also volunteers on several committees for events throughout the year along with helping other riders with their horses. During the summer of 2016 she was awarded the sportsmanship award by her fellow 4-Her’s. MaQuelah completed her freshman year of college at Ridgewater College in Willmar and was also on the Dean’s list. She will be transferring to South Dakota State University for the Fall semester of 2017 to continue her education as Agricultural Education major. She has been employed at the Willmar Walmart for three years. In her spare time MaQuelah enjoys spending time with her friends and family, watching movies, trial riding, going to the lake, and traveling. MaQuelah’s Willmar Fest sponsor is Minnwest Technology Campus.

Megan Peterson is the 19-year-old daughter of Jason and Nicholle Peterson. She is a 2016 high honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Megan participated in Band and Choir and received varsity music letters in both disciplines. She was a member of the National Honors Society where she served in various volunteer activities. Megan was a member of the Girl’s Swim team for seven years and earned her the varsity letter for three consecutive years and was named to the Central Lakes Conference Scholar Athlete Honor Roll and was awarded with Academic All State. Megan is active in her church were she was involved with the youth ministry worship team, taught Vacation Bible School, and volunteers with other church activites. She is currently attending Ridgewater College for an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, was named to the Dean’s list, awarded Academic Excellence by Professor Gremmels, and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa International Honors Society (PTK). While in PTK, Megan has helped with volunteer work, organize events, and was elected Co-President. After Ridgewater, Megan is planning to go to The University of Minnesota Twin Cities to pursue a major in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and eventually earn a Doctorate in Audiology. Megan is employed as a lifeguard at the Kandiyohi Area Family YMCA and Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center. In her free time, Megan enjoys being with family and friends, being outdoors, learning new instruments, and playing with dogs. Megan’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Willmar Bus.

Rhiann Schmidt is the 19-year-old daughter of Jon and Kathy Schmidt. She is a 2016 honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Rhiann participated in choir and band. She lettered in swimming. Rhiann is attending Ridgewater College where she is enrolled in the Law Enforcement program. Her future dream is to become a K9 officer. Rhiann is currently working at AFCM International. Some of Rhiann’s favorite activities are camping, hiking, playing with her dogs Cato and Clover, and hanging out with her friends and family. Rhiann’s Willmar Fests sponsor is DATA Success.

Samantha U’Ren is the 19-year-old daughter of Jennifer U’Ren and Lee U’Ren. She is a 2016 high honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. In high school, Samantha was involved in choir, jazz choir, orchestra and musical where she received CLC All Conference Award for her participation in choir. She also was a member of the student council, yearbook staff and National Honor Society. She was a leader for the Courage and Respect retreats. Samantha was awarded a varsity letter in softball, as well as receiving awards for the CLC Scholar Athlete Honor Roll and All State Academic Softball Team her senior year. She was a very active member of the softball community, volunteering her time to coaching and teaching skills and development. Samantha was selected to play for the United States U18 softball team in an international tournament during the summer of 2015. The tournament was in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Samantha is currently attending the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities and is pursuing a degree in filmmaking. She received the College of Liberal Arts- Dean’s Freshman Research Scholarship to participate in research her freshman year. She is a member of Minnecinema, a film club that puts on and participates in several student film festivals throughout the academic year. She is involved in intramural sports, the Rooter Club and is a lab tech in the photo and film department. When at home, Samantha works at Big Kahuna Fun Park in Spicer and is an umpire for the WCER. In her free time, Samantha likes to hang out with her friends and family, be outdoors, travel, take photographs, watch movies, make films, play sports, and mini-golf. Samantha’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Mills Auto.