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As dairy industry struggles, Farm Show's half-ton butter sculpture embraces the 'power' of agriculture

Written by Lisa Wardle, Digital Manager | Jan 3, 2019 1:20 PM
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The 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show butter sculpture was unveiled Jan. 3, 2019. Its title is "Find Your Power" and is made of more than 1,000 pounds of butter. (Lisa Wardle/WITF)

(Harrisburg) -- The state's dairy industry hopes you find power in the more than 1,000-pound butter sculpture at this year's Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The superhero cape design comes as dairy farmers across the commonwealth are struggling. Dairy prices have slumped since the market peaked in 2014 and tariffs are affecting exports. In the past three years, 200 dairy farms have ceased operations in the state

But the butter sculpture remains a staple of the annual agricultural event in Harrisburg, where everyday Pennsylvanians can interact with farmers and learn more about agriculture in the state.

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Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding talk inside the refrigerated case after unveiling the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show butter sculpture. (Lisa Wardle/WITF)

Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding were on hand to unveil the longtime Farm Show staple.

"There are many ways to tell the story of dairy, but there's no more creative way than through 1,000 pounds of butter, right?" Redding said. "It captures our imagination, it takes us on a journey, it draws us in."

This year's design features a doctor, firefighter, dairy farmer, football player and a soldier all raising their glasses. The title, "Find Your Power," is emphasized by giving these everyday Pennsylvanians capes.

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Butter sculptors Jim Victor and Marie Pelton said creating the characters' capes was difficult. (Lisa Wardle/WITF)

Sculptors Jim Victor and Marie Pelton said crafting the capes was especially difficult. They began planning the design in December and spent about two weeks sculpting the final product inside the refrigerated case at the Farm Show Complex.

Victor has worked on the annual sculpture since the 2003 Farm Show. He was joined by Pelton for the 2008 event and the pair has worked together every year since.

The sculpture is on display in the Main Hall. The 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show runs January 5 through 12. Admission is free, but parking is $15 in Farm Show lots.

After the event ends, the display will be deconstructed and the butter will be converted into energy at the Reinford Farm in Juniata County.

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