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Like squeezing butter from a stone, dairy group keeps this year's Ohio State Fair butter sculptures a secret

calf made of butter faces camera
American Dairy Association Mideast
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Provided
2019's butter calf dons an ear tag, which dairy farmers use for cow identification and record keeping, that honors the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the famous(ly weird?) Ohio State Fair butter cow will be back this year.

The previous iteration in 2019 honored the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, complete with butter astronauts and a butter Neil Armstrong saluting the American flag.

5-fulldisplay1.jpg
American Dairy Association Mideast
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Provided
The 2019 butter display honored the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing and included sculptures of Neil Armstrong saluting the American flag next to the lunar module, the full Apollo 11 crew, the official Apollo 11 patch and the traditional butter cow and calf.

What will 2022 bring? The American Dairy Association Mideast isn't disclosing this year's theme, despite our best efforts to lure it out of them.

"We are so excited about this year's butter display," says Jenny Crabtree with ADA Mideast. "The famous butter cow and calf will be sharing their cooler with some other butter figures that I am confident fairgoers will love."

Past sculptures have included athletes, sports teams, state symbols, choirs, the Columbus bicentennial and more.

Sculpting is scheduled to begin July 10. Artists will create two cows and the surprise theme display from more than a ton of butter.

"The sculptors start by building wooden and steel frames to support the weight of the butter. From 55-pound blocks, sculptors slice the butter into manageable loaves and layer it to cover the frames. After many hours of molding and smoothing the butter in a 46-degree cooler, each sculpture begins to take shape. Fine details are added last," ADA Mideast states in a release.

11-2020WinningSculpture.jpg
American Dairy Association Mideast
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Provided
The 2020 winner of the DIY #BuildYourButterCow contest featured a mini version of the iconic butter cow alongside a message of gratitude for Ohio's nurses.

Ohioans were encouraged to sculpt their own butter creations at home during the COVID-19 hiatus.

The Ohio State Fair runs July 27 - Aug. 7 in Columbus. The butter display reportedly attracts more than half a million visitors each year. ADA Mideast claims it to be the most visited attraction at the state fair.

The butter cow dates back to 1903.

black and white image of two children with a calf as an adult cow looks on from behind a fence. It's all butter
American Dairy Association Mideast
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Provided
For decades, fairgoers have flocked to the Dairy Products Building to gaze at the annual butter display at the Ohio State Fair.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.