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800-pound ‘Butter Cow’ unveiled ahead of Illinois State Fair

You butter believe it, folks.
Illinois State Fair Butter Cow
If you're trying to watch your cholesterol, you'll probably want to look away. John O'Connor / AP

Moo-ve over, bread and cheese sculptures. There’s another food-based architectural wonder in town, and it’s sure to make you say, “Holy cow!”

The state of Illinois just debuted an 800-pound “Butter Cow” sculpture that will be on display during the Illinois State Fair, from Aug. 10 to 20. It was unveiled on Aug. 9 by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II.

The lifelike sculpture is sure to melt onlookers’ hearts (and melt all over the floor, if the state fair doesn't have a pretty powerful refrigeration system in place) and it's available to view both in person and online via a Butter Cow webcam.

Sculptor Sarah Pratt is the creative mind behind the detailed creation, which shows Illinois dairy farmer Lorilee Shultz milking one of her cows.

“It is a privilege to honor Illinois farm families by sculpting the famous butter cow each year,” Pratt said in a press release.

Pratt’s daughter, Grace, also created another sculpture of Shultz’s daughter Lucy, who helps out around the farm, and her calf.

“Family is at the heart of Illinois farms and to be able to honor that, while working alongside my 19-year-old daughter passing down this tradition to her is precious,” Pratt said.

The Butter Cow, which is commissioned by the Midwest Dairy Association, dates back to the 1920s and has become a tradition that many guests look forward to each year.

“The butter cow sculpture is one of my personal favorite attractions because it is the perfect ode to the hard-working Illinois dairy farm families who produce delicious and nutritious dairy products for all to enjoy,” Midwest Dairy Manager Kendra Anderson said in a press release.

To help represent the 13 “essential ingredients found naturally in milk,” state fair organizers also hid 13 hearts between the two sculpture displays.

Pratt, who also sculpts butter for the Iowa State Fair, had a bit of a spelling mishap when she created the Illinois State Fair’s Butter Cow in 2018.

A butter sign in front of the cow was supposed to read, “Grand Champion State, 1818, Bicentennial 2018.” However, Pratt misspelled “bicentennial” as “bicenntenial,” misplacing the double-n, giving guests a good laugh. The sign was later fixed.