SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Quite a bit has changed since 1922: this nation has seen two new states added to the union, four wars, 12 presidents, eight generations, the beginning and the end of the Great Depression, the demise of Prohibition, a man walking on the moon, the rise of rock-n-roll and technological, scientific, and medical advances no one could have never dreamed of. One tradition at the Illinois State Fair hasn’t changed through the years and that is the Butter Cow.
In 2004, when Sharon BuMann from Central Square, New York, began sculpting duties, she did give the butter cow a whole different look, though. BuMann decided to add companions: kittens and butterflies and a farm yard motif.
To prepare for her sculpting duties, BuMann researched the Jersey cow and visited dairy farms in Illinois to photograph and measure the dimensions of a living, breathing cow.
In 2005, BuMann changed the dairy icon to interact and create a subplot for fun and humor. She was situated between two archrivals with her leg kicked up and other companions, a boy wearing a 4-H t-shirt and two dogs. In 2006, she was featured with her calf.
“The reactions I heard were from people who were delighted to see the cow change,” BuMann said. “I’ve heard rave reviews.”
This year will be no different. BuMann’s creation incorporates the state fair’s theme, “Celebrate and Educate.” Visitors took their first look at the new design today after a ribbon-cutting ceremony outside the Dairy Building on the fairgrounds. In her latest display, BuMann sculpted a young girl reading a book to her dog. The dog is looking up into a tree where the “Owl of Wisdom” is perched. A cow and colt are kicking their legs up in celebration. Other animals and items are also included in the scene.
In addition to a new design, the cow that was once untouched for nearly a century has received an even bigger upgrade: a new display case. Instead of sitting stationary against a white wall, the cow will now be placed in the middle of the room, rotating on a large, wooden octagon.
BuMann said when she started at the Illinois State Fair it was the only fair where she worked that displayed only one side of its butter sculpture. This is no longer the case.
As to the mystique of the cow, BuMann said it is something that is prevalent at all fair’s with butter sculptures.
“If they have one, it is something the public will not let go of. [Spectators ask,] ‘How do you get the butter to do that?’” BuMann said. “They’re just used to eating it.”
The Dairy Building will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily during fair, which runs from Aug. 10-19. For more information, please visit www.illinoisstatefair.info on the internet.
Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade Awards:
1st Place (Grand Marshal's Award) -- Bob's Bait 'N Tackle
2nd Place (Director's Award) -- Mill Creek Alzheimer's Special Care Center
3rd Place (Illinois State Fair Award) -- WalMart/Sam's Club
1st Place (Grand Marshal's Award) -- CORA
2nd Place (Director's Award) -- Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
3rd Place (Illinois State Fair Award) -- Prevent Child Abuse Illinois
Judges' Special Award - humor -- Bob's Bait 'N Tackle
Lincoln Award - Illinois Romance -- WalMart/Sam's Club
Superintendent Award - Craftsmanship -- CORA
1st Place -- Troupe Zahava
2nd Place -- Springfield BMX Club
3rd Place -- Real Life Church
1st Place -- Illinois 4-H Office
2nd Place -- Lincoln's Laffers Clown Alley
3rd Place -- Springfield Parents of Twins Club
1st Place -- Lincoln Way Central High School
2nd Place -- Normal West High School
3rd Place -- Rochester High School