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Astronaut-honoring butter sculpture at the Ohio State Fair. Butter sculptures are traditional at many Midwest state fairs.

How I remember the kooky state-fair butter sculptures I saw when I lived in Minnesota! This year, to honor the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, there was a particularly unusual one at the Ohio state fair.

Elizabeth Howell wrote at Space.com in July, “The Ohio State Fair is buttering up its visitors with a sculpture series to celebrate the big moon-landing anniversary 50 years ago.

“The sculptures are of the Apollo 11 moon crew – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins – as well as a separate buttery interpretation of Armstrong in his spacesuit by the lunar module, Eagle. There’s also a butter cow and calf standing beside the Apollo 11 patch. This took more than 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) of butter to create. …

“Said Jenny Hubble, senior vice president of communications for the American Dairy Association Mideast, [the sculpture] pays special tribute to Armstrong, who is originally from Wapakoneta, Ohio. …

“In between gazing at the yellow sculptures of the crew, visitors will have a choice of many dairy foods, including ice cream, milkshakes, cheese sandwiches — and of course, milk.

“While the butter connection seems at first to be a stretch, Armstrong did buy a dairy farm in Ohio after leaving NASA in 1971, two years after his epic first steps on the moon, according to a 2012 article in the Independent.” More.

According to Wikipedia, “Butter sculptures often depict animals, people, buildings and other objects. They are best known as attractions at state fairs in the United States as lifesize cows and people. … Butter carving was an ancient craft in Tibet, Babylon, Roman Britain and elsewhere. The earliest documented butter sculptures date from Europe in 1536, where they were used on banquet tables. The earliest pieces in the modern sense as public art date from ca. 1870s America, created by Caroline Shawk Brooks, a farm woman from Helena, Arkansas. The heyday of butter sculpturing was about 1890-1930, but butter sculptures are still a popular attraction at agricultural fairs, banquet tables and as decorative butter patties.”

Butter Art: Caroline Shawk Brooks, 19th century Arkansas farm woman
“Dreaming Iolanthe” depicts Yolande, Duchess of Lorraine, the heroine of Henrik Hertz’s play
King René’s Daughter. Says Wikipedia, “It was this 1876 masterpiece that ignited popular interest in butter sculpting as a public art form. The bowl was kept cool with ice underneath it.”
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