Butter Up: Pa. wants you to craft and share your own 2021 Farm Show butter sculptures

    Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Pa. Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding unveiled the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show butter sculpture. It was carved from a half-ton of butter (Commonwealth Media Services photo)

    Have you ever gazed upon 1,000 pounds of butter, sculpted into the creepy likeness of Pennsylvania sports mascots, and thought “Eh, I could do better?”

    Then here’s a New Year’s challenge for you. 

    The state Department of Agriculture invited Pennsylvanians on Wednesday to pay homage to the state’s dairy industry by creating their own butter sculptures during the 2021 Farm Show, which will take place online from Jan. 9 to 15. 

    The “Butter Up!” contest offers winners gift cards from select Pennsylvania grocers. It’ll replace the event’s hallmark butter sculpture – a 1,000-pound creation that serves as the pièce de résistance of the week-long convention.

    The sculpture takes a different form every year, and usually celebrates some aspect of state history or culture.    

    Last year, the sculpture by Montgomery County artists Jim Victor and Marie Pelton took the shape of three mascots representing Pennsylvania professional sports teams – including Gritty, face of the Philadelphia Flyers.

    The unveiling of the butter sculpture marks the start of the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which annually brings thousands of people (along with livestock and tractors) to the behemoth Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg. 

    State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced in August that the 2021 Farm Show would take place virtually.

    But Redding said earlier this month that the state would not commission a butter sculpture, citing health and safety concerns for the professional artists and crews who assemble it. 

    He hopes that the at-home art challenge will stir pride in Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers and help Pennsylvanians “gain new appreciation for the art of butter sculpting,” his office said in a Wednesday press release.

    The Butter Up! contest will accept entries from Saturday, Jan. 9 until Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 at 8:00 p.m.

    Aspiring artists do have to follow some rules. Participants can only use up to five pounds of butter in their creations, as well as chicken wire, sculpting wire, and a base for support. Food coloring is verboten. 

    They also can’t outsource the work to professionals, as “sculptures must be unique, individual work of the entrants.”  

    And while it’s not a requirement, agriculture officials do hope participants will craft their creations from Pennsylvania-made butter, whether it’s purchased from a grocery store or farmers market. 

    Entries will be judged in five age group categories: elementary school (ages 5-10), middle school (ages 11-13), high school (ages 14-18), adult (ages 19-64), and seniors aged 65 and over.

    You can find the full rules and regulations, along with instructions on how to enter, at farmshow.pa.gov.