Butter Cow Tradition Continues at Iowa State Fair

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- In the Agriculture Building at the Iowa State Fair, sits one of the most popular items on the fairgrounds, the butter cow.

The popular feature has been around since 1911, and Sarah Pratt is currently the one in charge of keeping the tradition going.

“It is such an honor to be working with the butter here at the Iowa State Fair,” said Sarah Pratt, butter sculptor. “It’s a tradition that is so near and dear to my heart.”

Pratt became the fair's fifth butter sculptor in 2006.

This year’s Butter Cow weighs about 600 pound and is made out of the same butter that has been used since 2005. Pratt says while butter sculpting at the fair is nothing new, people still have a lot of questions.

“A lot of people want to know if it’s solid butter,” said Pratt.  “They think it comes in a solid 1,000 pound block and I just carve it down. It’s actually a lot like carving or sculpting clay. There is a metal and wood skeleton underneath that we build onto.”

Pratt is at the fair each of the 11 days and will answer most questions about butter, just don’t bring up margarine.

“People don’t ask for my autograph very often but one girl asked for it and she wanted me to sign a margarine tub. I couldn’t do it, I had to draw a line,” said Pratt. “It’s not the same, you gotta have real butter.”

The butter cow has some company this year. It's accompanied by butter Star Trek characters, marking the series' 50th anniversary.


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