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July 31, 2001

Illinois State Fair Parade Marshal Named

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today named butter cow sculptor Norma "Duffy" Lyon the Grand Marshal of the Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade.

Lyon has sculpted the State Fair's butter cow from more than 600 pounds of butter since 1970.

"Because of Norma's careful craftsmanship, the butter cow has become an icon of the Illinois State Fair," Governor Ryan said. "Many families don't consider their visit to the State Fair complete without a visit to the Dairy Barn to see her latest creation. The Fair would not be the same without her."

Lyon's sculpting career began at home, keeping her nine children entertained by molding farm figures from a large bowl of butter. Later she saw a butter cow at a dairy farmer convention and Lyon remarked to her husband that she could do better. She soon began sculpting cows, other livestock and even celebrities from butter at the Illinois and Iowa state fairs as well as other fairs and conventions.

The 2001 butter cow will be Lyon's thirty-first creation at the Illinois State Fair. With the exception of 1997 when she suffered a mild stroke, Lyon has been the official butter sculptor every year at the Illinois State Fair.

Lyon and her husband, Gaylord, reside at the Lyon Dairy Farm near Toledo, Iowa. She uses her nearly life-long dairy experience in her work. She begins by pressing more than 600 pounds of Prairie Farms butter onto a wood and wire-mesh frame. She then carefully molds every curve and wrinkle of the cow's body into the cold butter.

After the fair, the butter is warmed and removed from the frame for storage at the Prairie Farms Ice Cream Plant in Decatur. The butter can be used for up to four years before it must be replaced.

Lyon will lead the 2001 Illinois State Fair Twilight Parade which kicks off from the intersection of Ninth Street and Converse Avenue at 6 p.m. on Aug. 9 and will proceed through the fairgrounds. Admission to the Illinois State Fairgrounds is free that evening.

Lyon will be sculpting her 2001 butter cow during the week leading up to the Twilight Parade. Her work in progress will be featured on a web camera on the Illinois State Fair website at www.state.il.us/fair.

The 2001 Illinois State Fair runs Aug. 10-19.


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