With Ohio State Fair Canceled, Sculpt Your Own Mini Butter Cow Contest Keeps Tradition Alive for Dairy DIYers

Build your own butter cow at home from July 28-Aug. 9 and share it on the American Dairy Association Mideast's social media to enter. The winner of the DIY contest will be announced Aug. 10.

click to enlarge A mini butter cow - Photo: American Dairy Association Mideast
Photo: American Dairy Association Mideast
A mini butter cow


Although the Ohio State Fair is canceled this year, the American Dairy Association Mideast is encouraging Ohioans to show off their sculpting skills in a DIY butter-sculpting challenge to honor the more than a-century-old tradition.

The annual creation of a butter cow and her calf has been a time-honored tradition at the Ohio State Fair since 1903, but because this year's fair is no-go due to COVID-19, the ADA Mideast is challenging Ohioans to create their own mini butter cow at home. To sweeten the deal, one participating sculptor will win a YETI cooler.

The butter cow contest lasts from July 28 to Aug. 9, and sculptors are asked to share an image of their mini butter cow on the ADA Mideast’s Facebook or on Twitter or Instagram with a #BuildYourButterCow hashtag. The winner will be announced Aug. 10.

“While we’ll all be apart this year to help everyone stay safe and healthy, we’ll still be celebrating Ohio’s dairy farm families and the annual butter cow tradition,” said Jenny Crabtree, senior vice president of communications for ADA Mideast. “We want to see everyone’s favorite memories from the Dairy Products Building to reminisce about how this tradition has brought friends, families and neighbors together for generations.”

Paul Brooke, who has been the lead sculptor of the butter cow display for 20 years, is offering a video tutorial for those interested in creating their own butter cow sculpture. Participants will need latex gloves, a 12-inch-by-6-inch wooden board and two pounds of butter to get started.

The Ohio State Fair butter displays are sculpted each year by a team that spends up to 400 hours in a cooler chiseling away expired butter to craft elaborate vignettes, which have included dairy likenesses of John Glenn, Darth Vader and Neil Armstrong alongside the traditional butter cow and her calf. 

click to enlarge The 2019 butter cow display to honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. - Photo: American Dairy Association Mideast
Photo: American Dairy Association Mideast
The 2019 butter cow display to honor the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

After the fair, the sculpture's 2,000 pounds of butter is recycled for use in biodiesel, animal feed, tires and cosmetics, according to the state fair’s website. As for the novice sculptors, ADA Mideast recommends transforming it into one of its herb-infused butter recipes.

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