Butter cow is udderly popular
By Cassandra Jo Colliflower
A sculpture that can butter her own bread and the chance to milk a cow are among the features of the Ohio dairy exhibit at the Ohio State Fair.
In the early 1900s, Ohio State and the Dairy Processors of Ohio sponsored butter sculpting contests at the Ohio State Fair, according to a press release.
Although there was no original theme or species the contestants were to sculpt, the butter cow and calf eventually found their way into the heart of the fair and its traditions.
This year's sculpture display not only has a cow and calf, but also a large ice cream cone and a little boy who has just dropped his ice cream. The sculptures were created by four people in a total of 322 hours. The display was made from 2,000 pounds of butter donated by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council Mid East and the Dairy Farmers of America.
The butter sculptures received such continual interest that the Dairy Products building was built In the 1920s in order to become home to the yearly sculptures, stored within a 45-degree glass cooler.
The building's main purpose at the fair is to represent dairy farmers and the dairy industry in the state of Ohio and has approximately 500,000 visitors each year, said Jenny Hubble, a spokeswoman for the Dairy Barn. "It portrays and highlights Ohio dairy products."
The Dairy Barn, in the Dairy Products building, is the perfect place for fair-goers to find hand dipped ice cream, milkshakes, milk, and cheese sandwiches. All of the items sold are made from Ohio milk products and will help support the Ohio dairy industry.
The Dairy Barn has 10,000 to 15,000 customers and goes through an average of 600 to 700 gallons of ice cream, not including milkshakes, daily, said Robyn Wilson, manager of the Dairy Barn.
Near the Dairy Products building is the Gilligan Complex where dairy cows and exhibitors are located.
Just inside is the Ohio State Dairy Judging Team which offers fair attendees the opportunity to milk a cow by hand, something many people would never have experienced otherwise.
The dairy judging team brings four cows from the OSU Waterman Dairy Farm on Lane Avenue. The cows rotate in one-hour shifts to provide six hours of milking opportunity, said Greg Hartschuh a junior in agricultural systems management.
The team has members sitting with the cows during the six hours in order to explain the milking process or answer questions for anyone who stops by, Hartschuh said.
As of Monday, 2,000 people milked the cows and the club members said they expect about 3,500 people by the end of the fair this Sunday. Hartschuh said not all of these milkers were children.
"We had some people that looked like they were 70 or so, saying that they have never milked a cow before and so they did," Hartschuh said.
Also in the Gilligan Complex are the dairy exhibitors. Many of these exhibitors are from family farms that have entered the fair for many years.