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 St. 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.”
In 1971 the Saint Paul Jaycee’s held the first Annual Klondike Kate contest. Every year, up to 10 women compete for this title, but only one will be chosen.
Originally, the reigning Klondike Kate performed alone. But as years went by, the character of Kate became so flamboyant and dynamic that she became more and more in demand. It then became a group effort so that many more of the requested demands for appearances could be fulfilled. Former Klondike Kates, who are members of the Royal Order of Klondike Kates, perform along side the new Kate to create memories from the Gold Rush era of our country.
As of 2009, there are 8 active members of the Royal Order of Klondike Kates, as well as the reigning Kate. The Klondike Kates do an average of 15 parades during the summer months, appear at various charity functions, and hold a Cabaret every year to showcase the newest Klondike Kate. Today, the active members of the Royal Order of the Klondike Kates make over 100 appearances a year.
They are a “sisterhood” of women who love to perform and, by their very presence, provide an open-armed welcome to St. Paul visitors and locals, alike. One common question is “Can you do it again?” meaning, after you have won your title can you compete and win again? The answer we have to that is,”Once a Kate, always a Kate!” Being an active member of the organization keeps you plenty busy.