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Dahm sees dream of royalty come true

It's a common theme in the dreams of little girls - becoming a princess - but for Hudson's Holly Dahm, that dream has come true.

Dahm is a member of this year's St. Paul Winter Carnival royalty. She was chosen from among 20 candidates and was crowned Princess of the South Wind at coronation ceremonies Jan. 28 that kicked off the weeklong annual celebration. Candidates are judged on communication skills, poise and their commitment to the Winter Carnival.

That commitment requires a lot of time. A princess for less than two months, Dahm has already made about 100 appearances, 90 of those during the week of the carnival. She and the other royals will make more than 350 appearances before her reign is over.

Dahm got her first taste of the "princess experience" in 1998 when she was a member of the Pepper Fest court. That year, the court made 30 appearances, among them the Winter Carnival.

"I enjoyed that Pepper Fest experience so much. It was a wonderful feeling to serve your community, represent them wherever you go and let other people know what a great place it is. I wanted to experience that again," said Dahm.

Of all the places she visited as a Pepper Fest princess, Dahm was most impressed with the Winter Carnival and decided she wanted to someday be part of their royal court. She decided the best way to accomplish her goal was to become a part of the carnival and has been a volunteer since 1999.

"It was a great way to learn about the carnival, what the spirit of it is, how it works and get to know the people who are there every year. It is a great event with a great history and tradition, and I love being part of that," said Dahm.

She made her decision to compete in the royalty pageant this year because she felt she was ready to make the large time commitment required of a Winter Carnival royal.

"I have always wanted to do this but this year I was in a place in my life where I felt I could give it the time and commitment that is needed."

Dahm, a 1999 Hudson High School graduate, is a master hair designer at the A' la Mode Salon and Day Spa on Locust Street, where she has worked for more than four years. Dahm says boss Boni LaVelle has been very supportive and with some creative and flexible scheduling she has been able to meet her obligations at work and with the Winter Carnival.

Dahm has already made a trip as the South Wind Princess across the Canadian border to Winnipeg for the Festival du Voyageur and in April will go to Bradenton, Fla., for appearances over several days. In between she will participate in St. Patrick's Day festivities in St. Paul and Siren, make an appearance at the Shrine Circus in St. Paul and attend the Klondike Kate Caberet in New Richmond, which is the hometown of his year's Klondike Kate.

In addition to the Winter Carnival queen and the princesses representing the four winds, the royal court includes King Boreas and a prince for each princess. Dahm said she was happy to serve the South Wind along with Prince Noros (businessman Jeff Bjerke). Each wind also has a set of guards that often accompanies the prince and princess. "I am a little biased about it, but I'm awfully glad I'm part of the South Wind. They really have the most fun," said Dahm.

As a princess, Dahm has been fitted with a royal wardrobe that includes formal wear, a business suit and casual clothes along with one long and one short fur coat. The coats are passed down from court to court. Most of her expenses as a princess are covered by the sponsor-funded Winter Carnival Foundation. Dahm's sponsor this year is Rottlund Homes.

Dahm says she doesn't foresee competing or participating in anymore royal pageants. She's accomplished what she set out to do. She thinks she succeeded in becoming Princess of the South Wind because she was willing to go "outside her comfort zone," and that philosophy continues to guide her.

"The most valuable lesson in an experience like this is not to put yourself first. It isn't really about you. It's about the 94-year-old woman in the nursing home who is just glad you took the time to stop by and take her hand and say hello. It's about the little girl at an elementary school who looks up at you in wonder and you bend down to talk with her and tell her she can do it too. It's about service to others. That's the most important thing I have learned."

Meg Heaton can be reached at

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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