SYRACUSE — Despite the cancellation of the New York State Fair, the construction and unveiling of one of its most beloved pastimes — the butter sculpture — rallied on this year.
The iconic, 800-pound butter sculpture was brought to life Tuesday morning during a virtual unveiling at the New York State Fairgrounds.
“Nourishing Our Future” is the theme of the 52nd annual American Dairy Association North East’s famous butter sculpture. The sculpture pays tribute to those who ensure children are receiving nourishment and learning — whether in school or at home — including dairy farmers, school nutrition staff, teachers and parents, according to a release from the association.
The two-sided “masterpiece” depicts a dairy farmer giving milk to a child learning from home alongside his mother and “virtual” teacher, present on a laptop screen, and to another child learning in school, with a school nutrition worker delivering a meal tray to the classroom. Both settings illustrate the vital contributions and commitment to “nourishing our future,” the release said.
“Despite uncertain times, you can rest assured that dairy farmers will continue to do what we have always done, 365 days a year — care for our cows and produce milk and dairy products to feed our communities,” said Lisa Porter of Porterdale Farms, Adams Center. “Children need nourishment to thrive in the classroom and beyond, and dairy farmers have long been advocates for school meal programs that increase student access to nutritious foods.”
The sculpture was constructed over a 10-day period by artists Jim Victor and Marie Pelton of Conshohocken, Pa., using more than 800 pounds of “scrap butter” — butter from damaged packaging or similar circumstances that make the butter unsuitable for sale and consumption — from O-AT-KA Milk Products in Western New York. This is the 18th consecutive year Mr. Victor and Ms. Pelton have created the butter sculpture at the New York State Fair.
Once the sculpture is deconstructed, the “scrap butter” will be taken to Noblehurst Farms, Linwood, where it will be recycled in a methane digester and converted into renewable energy.
“We are very happy to know that the tradition of the Butter Sculpture will go on this year,” State Fair Director Troy Waffner said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “Our dairy farmers have shown during this pandemic that they provide an essential service and I believe this sculpture is also a tribute to them and their heroic efforts to keep New Yorkers healthy.”
The New York State Fair’s butter “Sculpture at Home Contest” runs through Friday, Sept. 4. To enter, participants will make a sculpture using up to five pounds of butter and submit a picture of it to the contest site on the state fair’s Facebook page. The grand prize winner will receive a lifetime admission medal to the state fair.
The unveiling of the butter sculpture can be viewed at the American Dairy Association North East’s Facebook page.