A Royal Portrait Gallery

(Above: 1941 Queen of the Lakes Evan Brunson)

Hennepin History Museum is home to the Historic Aquatennial Collection. Included in this collection is a photographic record of the legendary Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes. The Queen of the Lakes played an important role in the Aquatennial festival, providing a dose of pageantry that enthralled audiences across the state… and the world. During the 1950s, the Queen of the Lakes traveled more than 100,000 miles annually! Early Queens were typically sponsored by businesses; in 1970, the switch was made to candidates representing communities. Shown here are a representative sampling of some of the reigning Queen of the Lakes from years gone by.

1951 Helen Stoeffer Aqua Queen

Helen Stoffer, 1951

1951’s Queen of the Lakes Helen Stoffer originally competed as Golden Valley’s 1950 Lilac Queen. She was at the time an 18 year old nursing student from Robbinsdale. She was no stranger to royalty; she was Robbinsdale’s high school homecoming queen.

1960 Gail Nygaard

Gail Nygaard, 1960

1960 Queen of the Lakes Gail Nygaard originally served as Miss Willmar — although at the time of her coronation her family had relocated to Minneapolis, where her father was minister of Simpson Methodist Church. A student at Hamline University, Gail was also Hamline Snow Queen.

1973 Patricia Kelzer skipper pins with Stenvig

Patricia Kelzer, 1972 (with Minneapolis Mayor Charles Stenvig)

Queen Patricia Kelzer represented the Shakopee Jaycees.

That’s just a handful of photographs from our extensive collection of materials related to all aspects of the Aquatennial, including its Queen of the Lakes program. Please stop by the Museum to learn more. Our Library & Archives are open to the public (for best research assistance contact us in advance so that we can prepare for your visit).

Preserving and maintaining the Historic Aquatennial Collection takes resources and money. Please consider making a gift to support the preservation of local history for current and future generations. Click here to donate today


Aquatennial Ambassadors Program

Hennepin History Museum

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