This Year's Ohio State Fair Butter Sculpture Honors the 50th-Anniversary of the Moon Landing

See Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins rendered in over 1 ton of butter

click to enlarge Life-sized butter sculptures of commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins - Photo: Provided by the American Dairy Association Mideast
Photo: Provided by the American Dairy Association Mideast
Life-sized butter sculptures of commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins

The Ohio State Fair's best-kept dairy secret has been leaked: the annual butter cow display's theme for 2019 is Apollo 11.

Honoring the 50th-anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, sculptors used more than 1 ton of butter to recreate special moments from the 1969 mission, including a scene of Ohio-born Neil Armstrong saluting the American flag after planting it on the lunar surface. Visitors can also expect to see a scene of the entire space crew next to the traditional butter cow and calf.

“Those who remember the moon landing often recall exactly where they were and how they felt, and the 50th anniversary is the perfect time to pay tribute to this amazing event and share that excitement with a new generation,” said Jenny Hubble, senior vice president of communications for the American Dairy Association Mideast, in a release. “Ohio also has a special connection to that day, as one of our own took the first-ever steps on the surface of the moon.” 

Handcrafted by five Ohio-based sculptors — Paul Brooke and Alex Balz of Cincinnati, Tammy Buerk of West Chester, Erin Swearingen of Columbus and Matt Davidson, a dairy farmer from Sidney, plus Ohio State University student Karen Tharp — an estimated 500,000 people will tour the 45-degree Fahrenheit cooler to take in the moo-sterpiece in all its buttery glory. While there, fairgoers can also learn about state dairy farmers and eat ice cream, milkshakes and cheese sandwiches. This year, a special Orange Moon flavor (orange ice cream with marshmallow swirl and brownie pieces) will be available.

click to enlarge Apollo 11 crew next to the traditional butter cow and calf - Photo: Provided by the American Dairy Association Mideast
Photo: Provided by the American Dairy Association Mideast
Apollo 11 crew next to the traditional butter cow and calf

The annual creation of a butter cow and her calf at the Ohio State Fair is an honored tradition that’s half as old as the state itself.

If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, we’re talking about a a life-sized cow sculpted from butter, but there’s much more to this dairy delight than meets the eye. Sculpting begins with the construction of steel and wood frames, which are then covered with layers upon layers of farm-fresh butter. The true task at hand begins when it’s time to mold and smooth the creamy lump into a perfect, seriously life-like cow.

Sculpture displays from years past have included everything from the Liberty Bell to A Christmas Story and Darth Vader. The theme always centers around “positive ideals and cultural trends in Ohio,” according to the Ohio State Fair.

Watch a video about this year's butter cow sculpture

The Ohio State Fair runs from July 24-Aug. 4. The fair is located at 717 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus. 

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