As the Miss Minnesota crown was placed on her head, Kathryn Rose Kueppers looked into the crowd at this past weekend’s competition and spotted her mom.

There were tears. There were hugs. And there were smiles. If anyone would know what the 21-year-old Mendota Heights woman was feeling at that moment, it would be her mom. Vicki Plaster Kueppers (then Vicki Plaster) was crowned Miss Minnesota herself in 1983. Now she was watching it happening to her 21-year-old daughter.

“I just fell to the ground. ‘That’s me! I did it!,’ ” Kathryn Rose Kueppers thought.

“Make the year count,” Vicki Plaster Kueppers would later tell her daughter. “Make every day count because this is a once in a lifetime experience.”

The Kueppers are the only mother and daughter titleholders in the Miss Minnesota competition and just the 11th in the history of the Miss America program.

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While from Mendota Heights, Kathryn Rose Kueppers represented Coon Rapids in the competition held in Eden Prairie, Saturday, June 22. A $10,000 scholarship comes with the title.

A child's glittering discovery

Kathryn Rose Kueppers was 4 years old playing pirate treasure hunt with her brother when they stumbled upon a wooden box in the basement. They peered inside and saw a glittering crown.

“I didn’t know you were a king,” her brother Robert would later say to their mother.

That is when Vicki Kueppers introduced her children to the world of Miss Minnesota. She and her daughter would go to the competition every year after that.

“I thought it was so fascinating, just the dresses and the pretty princesses,” Kathryn Rose Kueppers said.

And as she got older, Kueppers saw the impact the program had on the community and the scholarship opportunities it offered. So at age 13, she decided she wanted to compete in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition.

“They were never just a crown and a sash to me,” Kueppers said. “They were a real woman who did great things.”

Being in the competition had never been something Vicki Kueppers had pushed on her daughter. She wasn’t sure her daughter was ready for the commitment.

“Over the next week I had to convince her … I would do the work,” Kathryn Rose Kueppers said.

She did not win the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen competition, getting first runner-up her final year. That never got her down. Kueppers continued on to compete and placed as first runner-up in the Miss Minnesota competition last year before winning on Saturday.

Crowned decades before

Vicki Kueppers was introduced to the competition through her high school guidance counselor. She could sing and the Miss Minnesota competition would be the perfect chance to get some extra help for college.

Minnesota’s first mother-daughter winners, from left: Vicky Kueppers, who won in 1983, and her daughter Kathryn Rose Kueppers, crowned in 2019. Photo courtesy of www.missminnesota.org
Minnesota’s first mother-daughter winners, from left: Vicky Kueppers, who won in 1983, and her daughter Kathryn Rose Kueppers, crowned in 2019. Photo courtesy of www.missminnesota.org

“Competing is not for the faint of heart … There’s such high pressure,” Vicki Plaster Kueppers said.

After winning being named Miss Minnesota in 1983, she went on to compete for Miss America. That was the year Vanessa Williams won.

Kueppers has stayed closely involved with the organization over the years, serving on its board, chaperoning, and supporting each Miss Minnesota woman.

Now, she gets to do it for her daughter.

“It was just crazy walking around today with my mom — who I watched help so many women — and knowing now that I get to be that woman,” Kathryn Rose Kueppers said, blinking back tears. “It’s just this weird, full circle thing.”

The role of 2019 Miss Minnesota

As Miss Minnesota, Kathryn Rose Kueppers will be the official spokesperson for Children’s Miracle Network in Minnesota and will travel around the state, promoting Miss Minnesota and Miss America programs. Kueppers also created her own website www.theinvisiblecrown.org to be an online resource for candidates, volunteers, sponsors, and fans.

“I have this full year ahead of me to do as much as I can,” Kueppers said. “It’s just crazy to see it actually happening.”

Each year, the Miss America candidate chooses a cause or platform to support during her reign. Kueppers decided to go a route no other candidate has gone before and supported the very organization she got the title from. The organization allows women to earn scholarships and engage in their communities, something Kueppers said needs more attention.

“I realized that I really wanted to spend my time advocating and socially impacting my community with awareness of Miss Minnesota and Miss America,” Kueppers said. She will go on to compete in the Miss America Competition.

A few facts about Miss Minnesota

  • Kueppers sang the jazz song “In A Sentimental Mood,” winning the talent competition. She also won the evening wear/social impact statement competition, receiving additional scholarships.
  • A lover of jazz music, Kueppers can be seen in singing with the jazz group “Ella’s Cats” in Twin Cities cafes and coffee houses.
  • Kueppers attends Minnesota State University, Mankato, studying family and consumer science education.
  • With an associates degree in the Culinary Arts, Kueppers has a kids cooking segment on Children’s Hospital Star Studio called “Snack Attack with Kathryn.”