Iowa Butter Cow

I’ve lived in Iowa for 27 of my 32 years, but until 2 days ago I had never been to the Iowa State Fair.  It’s true what they say, you can get everything on a stick and the fair is larger then anyone could imagine (well, until you’ve been there of course!)


(My children watching some sort of cow show.  You can tell the 2-year was enthralled; the other   2 were humoring their little sister)

The Iowa State Fair frequently shows up on National and Families with Kids Summer Bucket Lists.  In fact, this year Al Roker visited the fair!

One of the main attractions at the fair is the Butter Cow.  Its a sculpture of a cow made entirely of Iowa Sweet Cream Butter (with a little help from wood and wire forms underneath it all!).

I’d heard about the Butter Cow before.  I’m sure I’d even seen a picture or two of the cow, but as soon as we got through the gates and on to the fair grounds I told my family the first thing we must see is the Butter Cow!  So my family of 7 (my mom and dad were with us, also visiting the Iowa State Fair for the first time) walked right past the bacon wrapped ribs on the stick, and the hand-dipped corn dogs (OK, OK so we made an impromtu stop at the mini cinnamon roll stand . . . you would understand, if you could have smelled them) to see the famous Butter Cow.

We could tell where the cow was, before we even saw it because of the steady stream of people walking by the large window to catch a glimpse of the cow.  But, when we finally got there this is what we saw:


Pretty impressive, if you think about it.  The butter cow is about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 8 feet long.  It weighs approximately 600 pounds (a really dairy cow weighs about 1000 pounds)  According to the Iowa State Fair website the butter cow could butter about 19,200 slices of toast and would take the average person 2 lifetimes to eat.  These statistics got me thinking:

1. If this cow could butter 19,200 pieces of toast, how much butter is being put on each piece of toast?

2. If it would take the average person 2 lifetimes to eat the butter cow, how much butter per day is the “average person” eating?  And, what makes a person “average”?

3. In the video about the 2013 butter cow artist Sarah Pratt says that this year’s cow weighs between 450 and 50 pounds.  If one stick of butter weighs 4 ounces, approximately how many sticks of butter were used for this year’s butter cow?

Want to know more about the Butter Cow?  Check out this YouTube video produced by Iowa Public Television.

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