The butter cow exhibit is a favorite at the fair. The 2018 exhibit sculpting is underway. Pictured is the 2017 display. Submitted photo.

Artists begin Sculpting over a Ton of Butter for Annual Butter Cow Display

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It may be hot outside, but one of Ohio’s coolest traditions is taking shape at the Ohio state fairgrounds. More than a ton of butter has arrivedat the Dairy Products Building, and sculptors have begun molding it into the traditional butter cow and calf, as well as intoadditional sculptures related to this year’s butter display theme – one of the best-kept secrets leading up to the fair. 

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. 

Each year, the American Dairy Association Mideast selects an icon or theme to feature in butter that is non-political, non-controversial and reflects optimism and broad audience-appeal. The 2018 display celebrated 35 years since the release of the classic holiday film, “A Christmas Story,” which was filmed in Cleveland, Ohio. Butter sculptures included Ralphie in his bunny suit, the iconic leg lamp, a Christmas tree with real twinkling lights, Randy in his snowsuit and Flick and the butter calf with their tongues stuck to a pole while the traditional butter cow looked on. 

The butter sculpture display at the Ohio State Fair attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year, and several exhibits have gainednational and international media attention.

The display is in the Dairy Products Building at the Ohio Expo Center, home of the Ohio State Fair. The outside of the building features a mural by local artists that celebrates Ohio’s dairy farmers and their proud contributions to communities across the state.

The Dairy Products Building is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and offers a variety of Ohio-produced dairy foods including ice cream, milkshakes, cheese sandwiches and milk.

In addition to enjoying the butter display, fair visitors can also learn about how Ohio’s dairy farmers care for their cows, their land and their communities. The fair will run from Wednesday, July 24 through Sunday, August 4.

The butter sculpture display and the Dairy Products Building are sponsored by the American Dairy Association Mideast, Ohio’s dairy-farmer funded marketing and promotion program serving the state’s nearly 2,000 dairy farms. For more information, visit