Our 2023 Willmar Fests Candidates

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

Allison Bruhn sponsored by Willmar Bus Service
Averi Linn sponsored by Quist Wealth Management
Ellie McGillivray sponsored by Jess Kubesh - Edina Reality
Esmeralda Garcia sponsored by Maurices
Grace Vierhuf sponsored by RELCO LLC
Jary Santos sponsored by MinnWest Technology Campus
Malaya Yague sponsored by Heritage Bank
Marisa Peterson sponsored by Primrose Boutique
Meghan Weiss sponsored by JMSK&Z

Find out more about each of our candidates below.

Allison Bruhn

Allison Bruhn is the 18-year-old daughter of Jason and Beth Bruhn and the younger sister of Benjamin Bruhn. She is a 2022 high honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School. While in high school, Allison participated in varsity tennis, National Honors Society, FFA, and choir. Allison also enjoyed spending part of her day assisting students with disabilities and enjoys being a role model for many. She earned a varsity letter in academics and tennis all four years of high school. Allison is active in her church community, including teaching music at Vacation Bible School. Allison is currently attending the University of Minnesota Morris where she is pursuing a degree in Elementary Education with a Mid-Level Emphasis in English. During the school year, she actively participates in college tennis and in the study abroad program. With her degree, she hopes to return to the Willmar School District to teach. Allison is currently employed by Willmar Parks & Recreation as a lead for the summer programs throughout the city. In her spare time, Allison enjoys playing tennis, working out, shopping, and enjoying time with her family and friends. Allison’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Willmar Bus Service.
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Averi Linn

Averi Linn is the 19-year-old daughter of Jeff and Sarah Linn. She graduated in 2022 from Willmar Senior High. During high school, Averi was an active member on multiple teams and activities such as girls swimming, robotics, speech, student council, 2701 choral group, and multiple musicals while also participating in Diamond Edge Figure Skating Club. She received a varsity letter for academics all four years of high school. Averi is currently attending Ridgewater College pursuing an Associate Degree where she is the current president of the Fine Arts Club and is an active member of college and community theatre. Averi is currently employed at Caribou Coffee and Applebees in Willmar, where she balances her time between work, and spending time with her family and friends. In her free time she also loves to roller skate, swim, figure skate, and perform in theatre. Averi’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Quist Wealth Management.
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Ellie McGillivray

Ellie McGillivray is the 18-year-old daughter of Josh and Mandi McGillivray. She is a 2022 honors graduate from Willmar Senior High School and attended Ridgewater College PSEO her senior year. While attending high school, Ellie was on the Willmar Cardettes Dance Team and danced at Main Pointe School of Dance. On the dance team, Ellie was a varsity captain both her junior and senior year. She also taught dance classes of all ages at Main Pointe while also taking as many of her own classes as she could.  Ellie is currently attending the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point majoring in dance with a minor in business. Ellie is super excited to continue her dance journey in Stevens Point since it is one of her favorite things to do. Her dream is to open her own dance studio one day and teach dance to young dancers of all ages. In college, Ellie is also involved in a Christian organization on campus called Chi Alpha. Currently, Ellie is working at Maurice’s and with the Back40 Family Farm making pizzas. In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her younger sisters, go thrift shopping, and lay out at the pool or lake. Ellie’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Jess Kubesh - Edina Reality.
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Esmeralda Garcia

Esmeralda (Esme) Garcia is the 19-year-old daughter of Maria Elena Hernandez Mendoza and Miguel Angel Garcia Vasquez.  She graduated from Willmar Senior High School in 2022 with honors. Esme was active in soccer, band, and was a PSEO student at Ridgewater College while in high school. She has very much so enjoyed working within our community for Willmar Parks and Rec and for the Willmar Soccer Association the past couple of summers. Currently, Esme is attending Concordia College in Moorhead pursuing a major in Elementary Education and minor in Spanish. She is also involved in the Concordia Band and volunteers with East Side Learning Center through tutoring young children. Esme hopes to come back to her hometown to be an Elementary School teacher and to continue to be a positive role model for her students. During her free time, she likes to go on walks, go shopping, and spend time with friends and family. Esmeralda’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Maurice’s.
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Grace Vierhuf

Grace Vierhuf is the 18-year-old daughter of Sarah and Nate Rud along with Josh and Samantha Vierhuf. She graduated in 2022 from Willmar Senior High School with highest honors. While attending high school, Grace was involved with the girl’s swim team and FFA. As a senior, she qualified for and competed in the State FFA contest for Horticulture, placing 3rd with her team. Grace is currently employed at Rice Care Center in Willmar and has enjoyed working there since her senior year of high school. Her work compliments the pursuit of her nursing studies at Winona State University. There she enjoys campus life and is a part of the women’s rugby team, the Black Katts. Grace plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Following graduation, she plans to gain experience in her field prior to becoming a cRNA. In her free time, Grace enjoys spending time with friends and family, going to the lake, trying new foods, and exploring coffee shops. Grace’s Willmar Fests sponsor is RELCO LLC.
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Jary Santos

Jary Santos Segovia is the 19-year-old daughter of Jeovanny Santos and Maira Segovia. She graduated in 2022 with honors from Willmar Senior High. During high school, Jary was part of many activities such as, National Honor Society, Speech, Jazz Band, Chamber Orchestra, 2701 Choral, track and field, Nordic Skiing, and other musical groups. Jary was captain of both the Nordic Ski team and Speech team during her senior year. Jary also was a Willmar Representative at the American Legion Auxiliary Minnesota Girls’ State and represented Willmar at the MSHSL AA state speech, NIETOC, CLC speech and All-State speech. During the summer months, she worked at Menards in effort to save money for college. Jary is currently attending the University of Minnesota, Twin cities and is on a premed track majoring in Biology, Society and Environment. She hopes to someday become a pediatrician. Jary will be working with the Tobacco Research Program at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and will be researching nicotine withdrawals symptoms as well as cancer. Additionally, she enjoys her role as Secretary of H.A.R.T; a student group that donates blankets and makes artwork for long term patients in hospitals. When Jary is not in class, she can be found studying (a lot!), crocheting, and spending time with friends and family! Jary’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is MinnWest Technology Campus.
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Malaya Yague

Malaya Yague is the 19-year-old daughter of Richard and Felicia Yague. She is a highest honors 2022 graduate from Willmar Senior High School. During high school, Malaya participated in Student Council, 2701 choral ensemble, numerous musicals, Minnesota Youth Symphony, All-State orchestra, Nordic skiing, and track and field. She was awarded the title Distinguished Young Woman (DYW) of Kandiyohi and was the first-runner up for DYW of Minnesota. Malaya has enjoyed playing the violin through Augsburg University Suzuki Talent Education for 17 years. As a part of her violin journey, she had the privilege of performing in Austria, the Czech Republic, England, and Cancun. She was an active member in her church as a student leader, worship leader, and on took part in three mission trips. Malaya is currently furthering her education at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL pursuing a social work major along with a certificate in violin performance. She is also working as a Master’s and Doctoral Enrollment Assistant which has been an empowering experience as a freshman. Malaya’s future plans are to complete the Master’s in Social Work program within a year after she graduates with her bachelor’s degree. She looks forward to the varied opportunities and populations that she will be able to serve as a social worker.  Next year, Malaya has the privilege of a new leadership role as an RA. In free time, she enjoys painting, singing, and spending time with friends. Malaya’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is Heritage Bank.
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Marisa Peterson

Marisa Peterson is the 19-year-old daughter of Steve and Kelly Peterson. She is a 2022 Willmar Senior High graduate. Marisa also earned her Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Ridgewater College with the class of 2022. While in high school, Marisa was involved with a variety of extracurricular activities. Some of these include the school’s musical productions, culinary club, fire explorers, FFA, and National Honor Society amongst others. She also spent 13 years dancing with Just For Kix and enjoyed her role as an assistant dance coach for 3 of those years. Marisa is currently furthering her education at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. She is pursuing a degree in Business Economics with a minor in Entrepreneurial Studies. With hope of graduating in the spring of 2024, Marisa plans to return to then return to her hometown community of Willmar with her goal being to someday create her own business. In addition to taking summer courses, she will spend her summer working at Kwik Trip and Jake’s Pizza. In her free time, Marisa enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and pets. She also enjoys reading, baking, photography, and writing. Marisa’s Willmar Fests sponsor is Primrose Boutique.
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Meghan Weiss

Meghan Weiss is the 19-year-old daughter of Dan and Lisa Weiss. She graduated from Willmar High School with honors in 2022. Meghan was very involved in music including band, choir, orchestra, Jazz Band, 2701 Choral Group, and Chamber Orchestra. Meghan also participated in the All State Orchestra for three years and performed on stage in the school musicals all four years of high school. Additionally, she participated on the varsity Cardettes Dance Team for two years along with softball. Meghan was involved in Student Council from Middle School through her senior year, when she had the privilege of being Class President. Meghan also enjoyed her time with the Main Pointe School of Dance. She took classes learning varied techniques and shared her love of dance through teaching younger students. She also enjoyed being involved at church (Vinje Lutheran) playing electric bass in a worship band. Meghan is currently enrolled at the College of St. Benedict pursuing a major in political science and a minor in music. Her freshman year accomplishments include becoming a member of the St. Cloud Symphony and serving as a Student Coordinator for the Eugene McCarthy Center. She looks forward to holding these positions throughout her college career. Meghan is enjoying working at Loving Arms Childcare Center, teaching bass, practicing music, and playing with various music groups in Willmar and St. Cloud this summer. After college graduation, Meghan plans to continue playing and teaching bass while attending Law School. In her free time, she enjoys working out, practicing music and being outdoors. Meghan’s Willmar Fests Sponsor is JMSK&Z.
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