The Butter Has Arrived in Columbus

But theme for iconic butter sculptures at State Fair remains guarded secret

click to enlarge Sculptures from 2019's "Over the MOO-n" display. - Courtesy American Dairy Association Mideast
Courtesy American Dairy Association Mideast
Sculptures from 2019's "Over the MOO-n" display.

More than a ton of butter has arrived at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus, as sculptors will begin to prepare their creations for the fair's infamous annual butter display this weekend.

The beloved butter sculptures return to the State Fair in 2022 after a two-year hiatus. The last time there was an in-person display was 2019,  when the works of butter art paid homage to the Apollo 11 crew and Neil Armstrong’s historic moon walk. That year's theme? "Over the MOO-n." 

If you can't see from the image above, the display included a life-size sculpture of Neil Armstrong, the lunar module Eagle, the American flag he'd just planted on the moon, the Apollo 11 crew in its entirety, and an attentive butter cow and calf (who appear every year).

As in years past, the display will be sponsored by the American Dairy Association Mideast, a promotional agency funded by the state's dairy farmers. Its cagey marketers tease that this year's theme remains "one of our best-kept secrets." They say the theme will be "non-political, non-controversial," and will reflect "optimism and broad audience appeal."

Sculptors will be working on their butter masterpiece over the next two weeks. They'll start, per the American Dairy Association Mideast public relations team, by building wooden and steel frames to hold the weight of the butter, which I'll stress again is at least 2,000 pounds worth. They'll layer it all on the frames and then mold and smooth it for "hundreds of hours" before the sculptures assume their final forms.

The display will be housed in the Dairy Products Building at the Ohio Expo Center for the duration of the State Fair, which runs from Wednesday, July 27, through Sunday, August 7.  More than 500,000 visitors are expected to attend the butter display.

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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