2017 Ohio State Fair Butter Cow Display
by Erin Williams
One of the oldest and most loved traditions at the Ohio State Fair, the annual butter sculpture display, was unveiled today by the American Dairy Association Mideast. For the first time ever, the sculptors included color in their masterpiece.
This year, the display is a salute to chocolate milk, the official beverage of the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA).
ADA Mideast has partnered with OHSAA for nearly a decade to encourage student athletes to fuel up with healthy foods, like nutrient-rich chocolate milk. A great choice for student athletes, lowfat chocolate milk is packed with protein, and eight vitamins and minerals to help them perform their best on and off the field, track or court.
The 2017 display features the traditional butter cow and calf standing next to a larger-than-life bottle of chocolate milk, and four student athletes playing football, tennis, softball and soccer. Sculptors mixed just the right amount of cocoa powder into the butter to create a creamy, chocolatey color for the chocolate milk bottle sculpture.
Made from about 2,000 pounds of butter donated in part by Dairy Farmers of America, the display was completed in about 500 hours, which includes approximately 400 hours of sculpting inside a 46° cooler.
The sculptors begin by welding steel frames to support the weight of the butter. From 55-pound blocks, the butter is sliced into manageable loaves and layered on the frames. After many hours of molding and smoothing the butter, each sculpture begins to take shape. Fine details are added last.
The 2017 display was crafted by a group of five Ohio-based technical sculptors including lead 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.
New for 2017, anyone can get up close and personal with the butter sculptures via a virtual reality experience that enables them to “look around” from inside the dairy cooler. The 360° view allows you to see every creamy detail that the sculptors carved into the buttery works of art. The new feature can be found on the American Dairy Association Mideast’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
To learn more about the history of the butter cow display and the sculpting process, check out this video.
The butter display is in the Dairy Products Building at the Ohio Expo Center, home of the Ohio State Fair. While there, fair visitors can also learn about how Ohio’s dairy farmers care for their cows, their land and their communities. The Dairy Products Building is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and offers a variety of Ohio-produced dairy foods including ice cream, milkshakes, cheese sandwiches and milk. The fair will run from Wednesday, July 26 through Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017.