Tradition Unveiled

Author: Ania Stilwell | August 21, 2018


Tradition Unveiled

That’s Marsha Anderson Leonard wearing the New York State Dairy Princess crown and sash at the unveiling of the Cow Jumping Over the Moon butter sculpture. (Amazing what you can find digging in the Syracuse.com archives.) It was 1969, and the first-ever New York State Fair butter sculpture unveiling.  

 “I was amazed with what they could do with butter and did not know it was going to be such as tradition at the Fair.”

Fast forward to present day. Marsha is back… and butter, er, better than ever. She helped reveal the 50th New York State Annual Butter Sculpture on August 21, 2018, at The Great New York State Fair. No spoilers here. Really want to see it? Here it is... or watch the whole event unveiling on our Facebook Live. Your choice! 

Fifty years later, Marsha is still a huge fan of dairy farmers and the dairy they produce. “The dairy farmers take pride in the product that they make, and people aren’t aware of how much work goes into it and the long hours farmers put in and the pride they take in their work. It takes a special person to be a farmer.” Her passion for the dairy industry is unwavering. It stems from growing up on a dairy farm.

Marsha was raised on Melody Brook Farm, in Kennedy, New York. Her family’s dairy had between 60 to 70 cows, which Marsha says she helped care for. She fed the animals, shoveled silage and baled hay. “Dad always had me doing something on the farm, but my favorite was feeding the calves,” recalls Marsha. Her brother still owns and operates the 2nd generation dairy in Chautauqua County. The farm still milks the same number of cows, but now bulk tanks and pipelines have replaced milk cans.

“The dairy farmers take pride in the product that they make, and people aren’t aware of how much work goes into it and the long hours farmers put in and the pride they take in their work. It takes a special person to be a farmer.” 

While her brother took up dairy farming, Marsha went on to become a registered nurse and enjoyed a fulfilling career, she raised a family, and has just settled into retirement.

Then came the call with the invitation from American Dairy Association North East for Marsha to attend the 2018 unveiling. Marsha says she was pleasantly surprised, “I’m excited to do it. It brings me back. I really enjoyed being a dairy princess and meeting new people, and to see what the sculpture is going to be, that’s going to be exciting! I've seen a number of sculptures and the sculptures have gotten pretty incredible!”

What's your all-time favorite Butter Sculpture? Leave a comment. Share your NYS Fair Butter Sculpture photos (past or present) with us. 


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.

Created in partnership by the National Football League and National Dairy Council, which was founded by America’s dairy farmers, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fuel Up to Play 60 is the nation’s largest in-school wellness program and creates real transformational change in more than 73,000 schools. Learn more at www.FuelUpToPlay60.com.