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Somerset graduate Johanna Smith is St. Paul Winter Carnival Princess

Somerset native Johanna Smith displays a copy of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Wonders book to students at the Somerset Elementary School during a recent visit by the St. Paul Winter Carnival Royalty to the school.

There’s another familial connection that Somerset has with this year’s St. Paul Winter Carnival court.

Johanna Smith, a 2010 Somerset High School graduate, is this year’s Princess of the North Wind in the Winter Carnival court.

She and her father, Rennie, have a rare connection through their involvement in the Winter Carnival. Rennie is one of the St. Paul Vulcans this year. He was also part of the Winter Carnival court in 2002, when he was Prince of the West Wind.

Johanna said that’s when she originally struck an interest in being part of the Winter Carnival court. She occasionally got to ride on floats with her dad in parades. She said, at that time, she wanted to be one of the princes, because she liked the colorful uniforms they wear.

The biggest attraction for Johanna to become part of the Winter Carnival court was the philanthropy portion of the role. Since being crowned, Smith said life has been a whirlwind of experiences. She said it took a bit of time to adjust to all the attention the court members receive.

“There’s a lot of people focused on you because you have this giant sparkly thing on your head,” she said with a laugh.

Shortly after completing the 10 days of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Smith and the court made the trip to Winnipeg, Canada, for the city’s Festival Du Voyaguer. “Which was a fantastic trip,” she said.

She will be taking another trip with the court to Florida at the end of April.

The intensity of the schedule increases heavily during the summer when there will be parades to attend every weekend and often one to three events each day of the weekend.

Smith said she’s already amazed at how close she has grown to the other members of the Winter Carnival Court.

“It’s an amazing group of energetic people,” she said.

She has been equally amazed by the response of the people, wherever the Winter Carnival court visits.

“Everyone you meet is looking to give back. You fall in love with the people,” she said.

Smith, 25, was sponsored as a Winter Carnival candidate by VocalEssence. She is a member of the VocalEssence chorus.

“We also have a concert coming up on April 22 with world-renowned guest composer and pianist Stephen Hough,” Smith said.

Smith was a highly artistic student at SHS, involved in school plays and choir. She has a splendid singing voice. She said those skills have helped her to quickly adapt to all the public appearances made by the court. She said those appearances are akin to being part of a school musical with the number of songs and other activities that are involved.

One of the recent stops for the Winter Carnival court was a visit to the Somerset Elementary School.

“It was pretty surreal. I was in the first fourth-grade class in that building,” Smith said. “It’s still a great school.”

After graduating from Somerset, Smith attended Purdue University, earning a degree in chemical engineering. She has worked at General Mills ever since. She works in a number of roles, including product development and flavor development.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.

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