“Milk. Love What’s Real” is the theme of the 51st Annual Butter Sculpture at the New York State Fair. A grandfather and child dunking cookies in milk and a young couple sharing a milkshake, this year’s butter sculpture illustrates how our love for real dairy connects many cherished moments in our lives. The American Dairy Association North East Butter Sculpture, sponsored by Wegmans, also depicts the important role that real cow’s milk plays in our most memorable family experiences.

“When we create meals, we create memories and real dairy is there,” said Joel Riehlman of Venture Farms in Fabius, N.Y. “From the ice cream at a child’s birthday party, to our cheese pizza on Friday night, to the milk in our lattes every morning, milk plays an important role in our everyday lives.”

New York State ranks fourth nationally for milk production and dairy is the top agricultural product in the state, accounting for 47 percent — or more than $2.5 billion – of all agricultural products sold statewide. “Milk. Love What’s Real” is a national industry campaign led by milk processors and supported by local dairy farmers.

Richard A. Ball, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner said, “The unveiling of the Butter Sculpture is a fun, longtime tradition in the lead-up to the Great New York State Fair. It’s also a tribute to our dairy industry, which is our largest agricultural sector. Every year, we celebrate and showcase the industry in our Dairy Products Building, where visitors can enjoy our dairy products, including ice-cold 25 cent milk, ice cream, and cheese, while viewing the Butter Sculpture display.”

“Wegmans is proud to sponsor this year’s Butter Sculpture, which is such an integral part of the New York State Fair,” said Evelyn Ingram, Director of Community Relations at Wegmans Food Markets. “We are delighted to join this long-standing tradition.”

The Sculpture was constructed over a 10-day period by artists Jim Victor and Marie Pelton of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania using more than 800 pounds of butter from O-AT-KA Milk Products in Western New York. This is the 17th consecutive year Victor and Pelton have created the Butter Sculpture at the New York State Fair.

Fairgoers can create their own memories at the Fair in the #ButterTogether Instagram Contest by posting a photo of themselves, friends or family in front of the Butter Sculpture. Use #ButterTogether and tag @AmericanDairyNE to enter. Grand prize is a $500 Amazon Gift Card, Amazon Echo, and free pizza for a year. Additional prizes and daily pizza gift cards will also be awarded. Visit AmericanDairy.com for contest rules and info.

After the Fair, the sculpture will be deconstructed, with assistance from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners, and transported to Noblehurst Farms in Linwood, N.Y., where it will be recycled in a methane digester to create electricity and liquid fertilizer for crops.