How to Make Your Own Ohio State Fair Butter Cow

Seven steps to create your own replica of the Ohio State Fair's Butter Cow

Columbus Monthly
A DIY Butter Cow

The world is opening up again, but many of us still won’t be able to visit an old friend this summer. For the second year in a row, the Ohio State Fair, which begins this week but isn't open to the general public, won’t feature a butter art display, including a butter cow and calf. So what should a disappointed bovine art fan do? Take matters into your own hands. Here are some tips, courtesy of the American Dairy Association Mideast and the fair’s lead butter sculptor, Paul Brooke, on how to create your own butter cow. 

Step 1: Put at least 2 pounds of slightly chilled, unsalted butter in a large bowl.

Step 2: Build a base to support your sculpture. Use a wooden board—at least 12 inches by 6 inches—and drill four holes in it to support a frame.

Step 3: Wire up the frame, which serves as the skeleton of your sculpture. Brooke recommends using soft aluminum armature wire, which you can purchase at most art stores.

Step 4: Mix and knead your butter into a more malleable consistency. (Be sure to wear gloves.) When you’re happy with how it feels, start layering the butter onto the frame.

Step 5: Shape your sculpture using tools like carvers and chisels. “With butter, you kind of have to build it up a bit and then carve it,” Brooke says. If you’re lacking art tools, a spoon, a butter knife and toothpicks can do the job.

Step 6: If your butter becomes too soft while working on it, cool it in the refrigerator for one hour or 20 minutes in the freezer.

Step 7: Show off your work—and don’t feel bad if it isn’t perfect. “I commend anyone who even wants to try it,” Brooke says.