new york state fair

State Fair May Be Canceled But Tradition Remains as Massive Butter Statue is Unveiled

The 800-pound butter sculpture was brought to life on the New York State Fairgrounds and unveiled virtually Tuesday

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What to Know

  • Although the New York State Fair was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic -- a beloved tradition still took place: the unveiling of the annual iconic butter sculpture.
  • "Nourishing Our Future" is the theme of the 52nd Annual American Dairy Association North East Butter Sculpture. The 800-pound butter sculpture was brought to life on the New York State Fairgrounds and unveiled virtually Tuesday.
  • "The sculpture pays tribute to those who ensure children are nourished and learning -- whether in school or at home -- including dairy farmers, school nutrition staff, teachers and parents," according to the American Dairy Association North East.

Although the New York State Fair was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic -- a beloved tradition still took place: the unveiling of the annual iconic butter sculpture.

"Nourishing Our Future" is the theme of the 52nd Annual American Dairy Association North East Butter Sculpture. The 800-pound butter sculpture was brought to life on the New York State Fairgrounds and unveiled virtually Tuesday.

"The sculpture pays tribute to those who ensure children are nourished and learning -- whether in school or at home -- including dairy farmers, school nutrition staff, teachers and parents," according to the American Dairy Association North East.

The two-sided, butter masterpiece depicts a dairy farmer providing milk to a child learning from home with his mother and “virtual” teacher on the laptop screen and a 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,” wherever children learn. 

“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 in Adams Center, New York. “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 10 days by artists Jim Victor and Marie Pelton, from Pennsylvania, using more than 800 pounds of butter from damaged packaging or similar circumstances that make it unsuitable for sale and consumption. This is the 18th consecutive year Victor and Pelton have created the the butter sculpture for the fair.

From left to right are New York State Dairy Princess Natalie Vernon, dairy farmer Lisa Porter of Porterdale Farms (Adams Center, N.Y.) and Richard Ball, Commissioner of Agriculture for New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. (Credit: American Dairy Association North East)

“It is so great that we were able to continue the longtime tradition of the Butter Sculpture and honor New York’s dairy industry in this special way,” Richard A. Ball, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Commissioner, said in a statement. “This year’s sculpture fittingly recognizes all of our food responders, from our dairy farmers to our school food workers, who work hard every day, despite these challenging times, to ensure that our students are being provided nutritious, healthy food.”

State Fair Director Troy Waffner shared similar sentiments.

"We are very happy to know that the tradition of the Butter Sculpture will go on this year,” Waffner said in a statement. “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."

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