Posted on Feb 28, 2023
Our  speaker this morning was  Maret Bylander who is the 2023 Klondike Kate for the St. Paul Winter Carnival.  Maret is a Stillwater High School distinguished  alumni graduating in 1971.
Please click "Read more" for the full story!
And see some photos here, too.
Maret began by giving us  a history of the real Klondike Kate.  Her name was Kathleen Rockwell and she was born in 1876 and died in 1957 at age 81.  She grew up in New York and eventually moved to the Yukon where she was a vaudeville singer and actress-- not a madam--as sometimes presumed.  She was married 4 times and lived quite the life.  Many  times Kate was stereotyped as  a very big woman with colored hair, but in reality, she was an all encompassing person for all ages and all sizes.  Maret loves being Klondike Kate and is proud to represent her as this year's St Paul Royal Order of Klondike Kates.  She is known as the "Peacock Kate"  due to the lovely peacock feathers on her official dress.  As part of the audition process, her winning song was " I Got Rhythm".  She tells us that "once a Kate, always a Kate".  There are lots of duties to be carried out as a member of the Royal Family and she has sponsors to help with expenses as they do charitable work to support communities.  
Here is some interesting information about Klondike Kate that can be round on the St. Paul Winter Carnival website:
She had beauty, charm and a man who “done her wrong”. She was Kathleen Rockwell, and she made her way across the mountains to Dawson City and gold fields around the Yukon and Klondike Rivers, just as many others did during the Gold Rush of 1898.
When the Saint Paul Winter Carnival began, Klondike Kate could easily have been the first to entertain at the Casino. Although it is not known exactly when Carnival began hiring entertainers, it is known that the last entertainer hired was in 1961, and she was known as “Klondike Kate”. She then disappeared for a decade until 1971 when the Saint Paul Jaycees decided to bring Kate back to Carnival. Together with the Winter Carnival office, they initiated a competition to chose a new Kate each year. The contest is held each January and the newly reigning Klondike Kate becomes the hostess for the two subsequent weekends of Cabaret performances.
Today the members of the Royal Order of Klondike Kates make well over 100 appearances a year. The current group of active members will participate in approximately twenty parades over the summer months where they sing live on the award-winning float. They also perform at many senior citizen’s homes, Meals on Wheels, Chamber of Commerce shows, conventions, benefits, the Minnesota State Fair, and many other engagements. For these very active women, who all work at full time jobs, it can be quite a demand on personal time. But the performances are so much fun that the Kates look forward to each one. Their statement of purpose for their organization reads “…to promote, enhance, and maintain a positive image, reputation and public perception of the legend of Klondike Kate.” They are a “sisterhood” of women who love to perform and, by their very presence, provide open-arm welcome to Saint Paul visitors and locals alike.