You butter not miss one of the popular annual traditions at the Missouri State Fair. A St. Louis artist is spreading joy and about 400 to 500 pounds of butter to make this year’s butter sculpture at the Missouri State Fair.
This is the second year that Angela Weis is making the masterpiece. Weis said it’s such a fun but greasy job.
“Making the butter cow was just a comedic series of errors. So, I’ve worked with clay, terracotta. I’ve worked with all kinds of materials. I guess unsurprisingly, butter is finicky. My first day was a disaster because the temperature was four degrees off. I found out I could only be in the freezer for so long before I had to go step out into the heat and warm my body back up and then go back into the freezer,” said Weis. “I am arguably one of the clumsiest people alive, so I absolutely did wipe out on the butter on the floor a few times – not just once – a few times. Quite a few chaotic events happened just because I’m clumsy.”
So why a take two?
“This is this is a strange concept,” said Weis. “But as an artist, I love failure, which, let me explain. Each time you fail, you have the opportunity to learn from that failure. And then if you can get the gumption to stand back up after you just topple over, you get the opportunity to do it again. And so, when I finished, I was very proud of that cow. But I was critical of my own work, and I thought, ‘Oh, I could do this better. Again, if I were to start all over, I could do this again.’ I am so excited for the opportunity to improve, to do this cow again and make these corrections. I don’t even know if anybody else would have seen the things that I saw, but to be able to hone this butter skill, very, very slow, very unique skill set. I’m very excited to do that because I want to do better. I want to provide a better cow for all the little families like the eight-year-old that was once my spouse pressing their face against the glass to see this cow.”
Weis plans to be better prepared this time around – with a coat, seven sweatshirts, extra thick socks and boots with cloth booties to help prevent slipping and sliding.
“My feet were the worst part. When I would go on my lunch break, I would get my food, get my coffee and open the door to the heat because it was July last year. It was so hot outside and I would just stick my feet out and let them warm up while I had my lunch,” said Weis.
And Weis plans to drink hot coffee this time around instead of cold coffee.
The sculpture details are under wraps still but the theme is “Nothing Better Than Cow Cuddling”. It will be in the Gerken Dairy Center beginning Thursday. Midwest Dairy sponsors the exhibit.
Weis explains the best part of last year’s whole experience of creating the sculpture.
“I had one point where I was like, ‘Okay, I’m pretty sure this looks like a cow.’ I was very tired at that point,” said Weis. “I had just finished the mouth of the cow and I had attached the ears. I was like, ‘Okay, it’s like two in the morning. I’m just going to go on the other side of this glass and look at it.’ So I did and there was this like, almost like movie moment where I stepped out. The lights were perfect. The cow was looking at me through the window, and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s a pretty dang gorgeous cow.’ I went to the hotel room and slept really well that night. But that moment was just beautiful for me. I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to work out. That’s a cow, buddy.’”
Weis’s family is very proud.
“They made a point every year to go to the state fair, to do the activities and of course, see the butter cow,” said Weis. “I got the opportunity to do this butter cow and I was talking to my spouse and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know. What do you think? And my spouse looked at me and was like, ‘Listen, this is the dream – getting to the butter cow.’ Then the rest of the family is like, ‘Where are going to go after this?’”
The Missouri State Fair is August 11-21 in west-central Missouri’s Sedalia.
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