The time-honored tradition of sculpting a cow out of blocks of butter is one celebrated at state fairs each year, specifically in Iowa and Minnesota. The butter carvings shed some light on the state's dairy industry, helping to educate consumers about area dairy farmers and their impact on the state’s economy, as well as the safe, nutritious butter, cheese, milk and yogurt they produce.
Butter sculpting is a tradition more than 100 years old at the Iowa State Fair, but knowledge about the tradition became more mainstream following the 2011 Hollywood movie, “Butter,” starring actress Jennifer Garner. In the movie, Garner’s character gives a speech about butter carving, describing the competition as “excellence in butter.”
Butter carving is a fun annual event, but this year was marred by animal activist vandals who defaced the butter cow at the Iowa State Fair.
According to the Des Moines Register , “The Iowa State Fair’s beloved butter cow sculpture looks as good as new after vandals covered the iconic bovine in red paint early Sunday. The cow, a fair tradition since 1911, cleaned up well after the dousing. Vandals from the group Iowans for Animal Liberation (IAL) attempted to churn controversy over factory farms by scrawling ‘Freedom For All’ on a glass window in the display.”
The article went on to explain that no arrests have been made, but IAL has claimed responsibility for the vandalism in an email to the Des Moines Register that read, “After dismantling the lock to the refrigerated case housing the Butter Cow with a screwdriver, we doused the entire butter sculpture in red paint," the email said. "The paint represents the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms, and dairies."
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I’m glad to hear the butter sculpture was repaired, and that fair-goers can continue to see the work of art as they learn more about agriculture. It’s unfortunate that this animal rights activist group is getting so much press. However, after reading through the comments on the article, it appears most readers were unimpressed with the childish theatrics  of this group. We can also be thankful that the group didn’t attack any live animals or 4-H youth at the fair.
Were any of you at the Iowa State Fair over the weekend? Did you see the butter cow? Have you heard any additional reports from the vandalism? Share your thoughts and reports in the comments section below.