After churning out a national championship win over Oregon in January, the efforts of the Ohio State football team have been immortalized in sweet creamy goodness at the Ohio State Fair.
The fair unveiled its 2015 sculpted butter display, featuring life-size carvings of coach Urban Meyer and Brutus Buckeye, as well as larger-than-life dairy replicas of an OSU football helmet and the College Football Playoff national championship trophy, on Tuesday.
The theme this year celebrated OSU’s 42-20 win over Oregon during the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship, held on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.
The display was created from approximately 2,000 pounds of butter and took a team of four Ohio-based technical sculptors 400 hours to sculpt. Work on the butter was done in a 46-degree cooler, according to an American Dairy Association Mideast press release.
The ADA Mideast is an organization that communicates information about dairy foods on behalf of dairy farmers in Ohio and West Virginia.
Butter sculpting at the Ohio State Fair is a tradition stretching back to the early 1900s, said Jenny Hubble, vice president of communication for the ADA Mideast.
Hubble said the fair’s original butter sculpture was a cow, which has been recreated and displayed in the Dairy Products Building at the Ohio Expo Center every year since.
“The butter cow found a home in the Dairy Products Building in the 1920s and in about the 1960s, sometime in that decade, additional sculptures were added to the display, like the calf and the surprise sculptures we unveil each year,” she said.
The theme of the display this year, like in years past, was chosen by the ADA Mideast, in collaboration with the artists who sculpt the butter, Hubble said.
“The American Dairy Association always chooses themes that are non-controversial, very popular (and) nonpolitical,” she said. “This year, when we chose to do a tribute to the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, we both were right on the same page.”
The last time the OSU athletic department was etched in butter at the fair was in 1997, created in celebration of the football team’s Rose Bowl victory over Arizona State, Hubble said.
“The display that year included a replica of (then-) coach (John) Cooper as well as a football player, a cheerleader and a band member,” she said. “Very different than the display you see today.”
The butter used in the sculpture was donated in part by the Dairy Farmers of America, the ADA Mideast release said.
Lead sculptors Paul Brooke and Alex Balz, who have worked on the fair’s butter sculptures for the past 16 years, and assistant sculptors Tammy Buerk and Erin Swearingen received the butter in 55-pound blocks, which they molded to resemble Meyer, Brutus and the other objects included in the display.
The sculptures will remain at the fair until its last day on Aug. 9 and will be disposed of after the event ends. The sculptures are crafted from expired butter, which is one reason why they cannot be eaten, Hubble said.
“After a week of the artists having their hands in it and molding it and putting it on display in that cooler, it is not edible at all,” she said, adding that the ADA tries to find ways to recycle and compost the materials used. “For us, it is a great way to use that product as part of our tradition and promotion of the Ohio State Fair.”
The Ohio State Fair is held on the Ohio Expo Center and State Fair grounds. The fair began on Wednesday.
A time lapse video of the creation of the 2015 Ohio State Fair butter sculpture display. Credit: Courtesy of the American Dairy Association Mideast