The Minnesota State Fair is underway, and that enormous event has a little bit of everything – rides down the giant slide, great views at the top of the Space Tower, the llama and alpaca costume contest, big name musical guests, deep fried foods on sticks, and that most Midwestern tradition, butter sculptures.

But for the first time in nearly 50 years, those butter sculptures won’t be made by Linda Christensen, the fair’s ace butter sculptor.

The Washington Post reported on Christensen’s long career at the fair.

She’s a Minnesota native who graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design just as the fair was looking for a new sculptor.

So, outside of her work as an art teacher, she spent a couple weeks each year working on butter sculptures for the fair.

Other state fairs have butter cow sculptures.

In Minnesota, they have something else, called Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

It’s a contest (though not a beauty contest) in which young Minnesota women compete to serve as an ambassador for the state’s dairy farms.

Christensen’s job was to create butter sculptures of the contestants, and organizers say her work has given the Princess Kay contest the high profile it has in Minnesota.

While she retired after last year’s event, over 500 butter sculptures under her belt, the tradition continues with Gerry Kulzer, a fellow art teacher and butter art enthusiast.

It takes the artist about six hours to chiseling one of the sculptures out of a 90 pound block of salted butter.

The public can watch the artist work in a see-through cold room, to make sure the butter busts don’t melt – at least not until the fair is over.

The contestants get to take the sculptures home afterward.

Some have kept their likenesses in the freezer, to show off to friends and family.

Others have cut their buttery doppelgangers into pieces and served them to neighbors at community corn roasts.

I’m not sure if we’re still living in the push-button age, but there are still a lot of buttons in the world around us.

The Instagram account push.pushbuttons showcases some of the coolest of those buttons – whether they’re clear, or colorful, or official looking, or whimsical, or retro or just plain pushable.

For nearly 50 years, she’s sculpted women’s faces at the state fair — out of butter. Now she’s retiring her knife. (Washington Post)

push.pushbuttons (Instagram via Messy Nessy)

We’d make butter sculptures of our Patreon backers if we could 

Photo by Lorie Shaull via Flickr/Creative Commons