GREAT NEWS! Laura Ingalls Wilder will be attending the best fair in the country this August! (OK, Texas might have a bit of an argument with that, but honestly we’re the one they wrote a book about see State Fair by Phil Stong – or watch the movies.)
The Iowa State Fair has announced:
The Iowa State Fair Butter Cow heads to the prairie with her companion sculpture, Laura Ingalls Wilder! In 2017, Laura Ingalls Wilder will be cast in 100% cream butter to celebrate her 150th birthday. Stop into the Agriculture Building and see Laura, along with a replica of the official Solheim Cup trophy, all sculpted in butter August 10-20.
So What’s a Butter Cow?
A butter cow is one of those things that are unique to State Fairs. Other fairs still have them, but the Iowa State Fair’s is famous. The line to view this year’s cow reaches the full length of the Agriculture building. The tradition in Iowa began in 1911. They are part of the long tradition of showing off your agricultural products to help boost sales. The butter cow was a bit of a late comer to the tradition since to really be viable you needed a refrigerated case.
There had been a series of sculptors with the most famous being Norma “Duffy” Lyon who did a butter cow from 1960 to 2006. In 2007 her apprentice Sarah Pratt took over and has worked on the butter cows ever since.
Learn more about the butter cows and find links to Iowa Public Television’s news stories about them through the years:
Beyond the Cow
The focus used to be all cow, all the time. However, every so often an occasional second sculpture joined and starting in at least 1996 one has appeared every year.
This year they’ve chosen someone whose 150th birthday is this year and some sports thing.
In 2017, Laura Ingalls Wilder will be cast in 100% cream butter to celebrate her 150th birthday. Laura Ingalls Wilder spent part of her childhood in Burr Oak, Iowa and her sister Mary attended the Vinton School for the Blind in Iowa. Various birthday celebrations and festivals are happening across the Midwest in recognition of her birthday. More butter please- West Des Moines will be host to the international golf tournament for women. Sarah Pratt, Iowa State Fair butter sculptor since 2006 will be bringing a little bit of the Solheim Cup to the Iowa State Fair as she creates a replica of the official trophy. Both Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Solheim Cup trophy will be on display with the Butter Cow in the John Deere Agriculture Building throughout the Fair.
The butter cow is located on the agricultural products section of the Agriculture Building on the Iowa State Fair grounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The statues are only displayed during the actual run of the fair, this year August 10-20. A line forms to walk directly in front of the glass case. Normally you can get a semi-decent view from passing on the other side of the line or from the top of the balcony on the opposite side but either will be partially blocked by the line directly in front of the case.
Be aware that standard practice now is to demonstrate the sculpting during the fair so early in the run of the Fair Laura may not be fully done.
For tips about visiting the Iowa State Fair in general check out my touring plans on my podcast:
I’m sure there will be a lot of coverage of this as the fair goes on but these two articles are first out of the gate.
I also want to send thanks to DMACC and Kelly Pelzel who sent me the news.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.