Ohio State Fair Renders 'A Christmas Story' in 1 Ton of Butter

The Ohio State Fair's best-kept dairy secret has been leaked: the annual butter cow display's theme for 2018 is A Christmas Story.

Honoring the 35th-anniversary of the Cleveland-filmed holiday classic, sculptors used more than 1 ton of butter to recreate scenes and props from the movie like the infamous leg lamp, triple-dog-dare pole lick, Ralphie in his bunny pajamas and more.

It took butter sculptors more than 400 hours to create the complex scene, which will be on view 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily in the Dairy Products Building through Aug. 5. 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.

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, and this year is no exception.

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 will 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.

Last year, a team of butter sculptors worked tirelessly to complete the dairy display, which included not only the cow and her calf, but also a six-foot bottle of chocolate milk and four high school athletes in the midst of playing various sports. (Chocolate milk is the official beverage of the Ohio High School Athletic Association.) The display took a total of 500 hours and a whopping 2,000 pounds of butter. Talk about playing with your food. 

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The butter display is a long-standing tradition of Ohio’s more than 2,200 dairy farmers. Each year, the display’s theme is one of the best-kept secrets leading up to the Ohio State Fair.
Photo: Provided
The butter display is a long-standing tradition of Ohio’s more than 2,200 dairy farmers. Each year, the display’s theme is one of the best-kept secrets leading up to the Ohio State Fair.
The butter cow is an Ohio State Fair tradition that dates back to the early 1900s. Today, more than half a million fairgoers enjoy the display in the Dairy Products Building each year.
Photo: Provided
The butter cow is an Ohio State Fair tradition that dates back to the early 1900s. Today, more than half a million fairgoers enjoy the display in the Dairy Products Building each year.
Each year, the American Dairy Association Mideast chooses a butter display theme that honors Ohio’s history and culture. This year, they celebrate the 35th anniversary of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story,” which was filmed in Cleveland.
Photo: Provided
Each year, the American Dairy Association Mideast chooses a butter display theme that honors Ohio’s history and culture. This year, they celebrate the 35th anniversary of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story,” which was filmed in Cleveland.
The butter calf was incorporated into this year’s butter display theme at the Ohio State Fair. Someone must have “triple dog dared” her and Flick to stick their tongues to a pole.
Photo: Provided
The butter calf was incorporated into this year’s butter display theme at the Ohio State Fair. Someone must have “triple dog dared” her and Flick to stick their tongues to a pole.
Sculptors incorporated twinkling lights into the Christmas tree butter sculpture.
Photo: Provided
Sculptors incorporated twinkling lights into the Christmas tree butter sculpture.
Sculptors first build steel frames to support the butter, then spend hours molding and smoothing while the sculptures take shape.
Photo: Provided
Sculptors first build steel frames to support the butter, then spend hours molding and smoothing while the sculptures take shape.
Alex Balz, one of the lead sculptors, molds a butter sculpture of Ralphie in his bunny suit. It took sculptors about 400 hours to complete this year’s butter display, working with about 2,200 pounds of butter in a 46-degree cooler.
Photo: Provided
Alex Balz, one of the lead sculptors, molds a butter sculpture of Ralphie in his bunny suit. It took sculptors about 400 hours to complete this year’s butter display, working with about 2,200 pounds of butter in a 46-degree cooler.
Fairgoers can enjoy the butter display through Aug. 5, inside the Dairy Products Building, where they can also learn about Ohio’s dairy farms and enjoy treats like ice cream, milkshakes and cheese sandwiches.
Photo: Provided
Fairgoers can enjoy the butter display through Aug. 5, inside the Dairy Products Building, where they can also learn about Ohio’s dairy farms and enjoy treats like ice cream, milkshakes and cheese sandwiches.