52nd Annual American Dairy Association North East Butter Sculpture Unveiled: Nourishing Our Future

SYRACUSE, N.Y. –”Nourishing Our Future” is the theme of the 52nd Annual American Dairy Association North East Butter Sculpture. Despite the cancellation of the New York State Fair, the iconic 800-pound butter sculpture was brought to life on the New York State Fairgrounds and unveiled virtually today. The sculpture pays tribute to those who ensure our children are nourished and learning – whether in school or at home – including dairy farmers, school nutrition staff, teachers and parents.

The two-sided, butter masterpiece depicts a dairy farmer providing milk – to a child learning from home with his mother and “virtual” teacher, present in the laptop screen – to a child learning in school, with a school nutrition worker delivering a meal tray to the classroom. Both settings illustrate the vital contributions and commitment to “nourishing our future,” wherever children learn by dairy farmers and school nutrition teams. 

“Despite uncertain times, you can rest assured that dairy farmers will continue to do what we have always done, 365 days a year – care for our cows and produce milk and dairy products to feed our communities,” said Lisa Porter of Porterdale Farms in Adams Center, N.Y. “Children need nourishment to thrive in the classroom and beyond, and dairy farmers have long been advocates for school meal programs that increase student access to nutritious foods.”

“It is so great that we were able to continue the longtime tradition of the Butter Sculpture and honor New York’s dairy industry in this special way,” said Richard A. Ball, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Commissioner. “This year’s sculpture fittingly recognizes all of our food responders, from our dairy farmers to our school food workers, who work hard every day, despite these challenging times, to ensure that our students are being provided nutritious, healthy food.”

“We are very happy to know that the tradition of the Butter Sculpture will go on this year,” said State Fair Director Troy Waffner. “Our dairy farmers have shown during this pandemic that they provide an essential service and I believe this sculpture is also a tribute to them and their heroic efforts to keep New Yorkers healthy.”

The Sculpture was constructed over a 10-day period by artists Jim Victor and Marie Pelton of Conshohocken, Pa., using more than 800 pounds of “scrap butter” – butter from damaged packaging or similar circumstances that make it unsuitable for sale and consumption – from O-AT-KA Milk Products in Western New York. This is the 18th consecutive year Victor and Pelton have created the Butter Sculpture at the New York State Fair.

The butter sculpture can be viewed on the American Dairy Association North East Facebook page.

After the sculpture is deconstructed, the “scrap butter” will be transported to Noblehurst Farms in Linwood, N.Y., where it will be responsibly recycled in a methane digester and converted into renewable energy.

Four-lucky-fair-fans won the opportunity to “attend” the virtual unveiling through American Dairy Association North East’s #VirtuallyButterTogether Instagram Contest by posting photos of themselves enjoying dairy. Winners were represented by life-size cardboard cutouts appearing around the Butter Sculpture. The winners also received free pizza for a year and a Chromebook. Congratulations to: Ryan Del Franco, Brooklyn; Kathryn Gozigian, Syracuse; Jennifer Groth, Camillus; and Angela Noreau, Chase Mills.

Additionally, the Great New York State Fair’s Butter “Sculpture at Home Contest” runs through September 4. To enter, participants will make a sculpture using up to five pounds of butter and submit a picture of it at the contest site on the Fair’s Facebook page. The grand prize winner will receive a Lifetime Admission Medal to the Fair.

Photo caption: From left to right: New York State Dairy Princess Natalie Vernon; dairy farmer Lisa Porter of Porterdale Farms, Adams Center, N.Y.; and Commissioner of Agriculture for New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Richard Ball.