Creating a Butter Sculpture: Big and Small

Author: Administrator | August 27, 2018


Creating a Butter Sculpture: Big and Small

The butter sculpture is an annual staple of the New York State Fair that has been catching eyes and turning heads for the last 50 years.

But you may not know that there’s a very similar sculpture housed at the fairgrounds that has quite the story itself.

For the last 16 years, there has been a miniature model version of the butter sculpture that has been on display for visually impaired visitors to the fair to touch and experience.

Before we scale it up, we make a small model of the #buttersculpture for the @nysfair. This serves the #blind community...

Posted by Jim Victor & Marie Pelton Sculpture on Friday, August 24, 2018

“It was an idea that came from members of the State Fair. We thought it was a great idea and we were more than happy to do it,” said food sculptures Marie and Jim Pelton, who’ve brought the annual butter sculpture and mini versions to life since 2003."

“The armatures are part of the creation process itself, so they are authentic and do bring a real feel. And it’s just a really neat thing to do,” Marie said.

The 2018 sculpture features a farmer delivering milk to a woman in an effort to show that your milk comes from a good place – hardworking, devoted and local dairy farmers.

When checking out the mini version of this year’s sculpture, you may notice some different design elements from the final product. For example, in this year’s mini replica version has the door in a different spot than where it wound up on the main version.

Never fear, it’s all part of the process, according to Marie.

“Sometimes there are last minute changes to make sure things are as clean as possible in the main sculpture,” she said. “Not too often, but it does happen from time to time. If you try to fit in too many details, it may not be the best final product you can put out.”

Jim and Marie each have favorite butter sculptures from past years.

Jim recounted the Cow Jumping Over the Moon sculpture from 2008 as one of his favorites, while Marie recalled 2010’s Dairyland as a memorable one for her.

The main butter sculpture has a shelf life that expires shortly after the New York State Fair ends. The sculpture will be torn down and the butter will be sent to Noblehurst Farms in Linwood, N.Y, where it will be recycled in a methane digester to create electricity and liquid fertilizer for crops.

But the mini versions live on for all to see in the years to come. The past versions are on permanent display in the History Building on the fairgrounds.

“It’s fun going back and getting to see all the work you’ve done before and seeing how things have evolved,” Marie said.

“We smile and enjoy it every year. And that’s what we want everyone else to do, too!”

Check out a time-lapse video of this year's sculpture being created!


American Dairy Association North East is one of 19 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.

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