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In observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the Telegraph and Daily Gazette newspapers will not be published January 20. Breaking news and information will be updated on

Building a butter future for Illinois

State fair unveils hard hat-wearing buttery bovine, dedicated to rebuilding the state

Always had a hankering to see a cow wearing a hard hat?

Your wait is over.

The butter cow for the 2019 Illinois State Fair made its official debut Wednesday, a sculpture in dairy that reflects the fair's "Building Our Future" theme.

The construction cow motif started with the hard hat on the cow's head and carried through to the ground, where the cow was surrounded by cones that are often seen around construction projects. The 800 pounds of recycled butter was also used to sculpt the word "Future" with a hammer sticking out of the top of the F.

"The butter cow is representative of something important that we are doing in the state of Illinois. It's rebuilding our state," said Gov. JB Pritzker. "We've investing, of course, in our roads and our bridges and our infrastructure. We're rebuilding everything that's great about the state of Illinois, and it's represented in the sculpture of the butter cow."

Pritzker was referring to the $45 billion capital bill approved by lawmakers during the spring session. While the idea of spending money on public works projects is popular, there was grumbling about the taxes and fees raised to pay for it, particularly doubling the state gasoline tax.

Hidden within the sculpture are nine hearts that represent the nine essential nutrients contained in dairy products. Agriculture Director John Sullivan said the butter cow has been a tradition at the fair for nearly 100 years.The cow was again sculpted by Sarah Pratt of Iowa, who has sculpted cows and other likenesses across the Midwest since 2006. Fair officials said it took her 5 days to make the Illinois sculpture, working in a display case kept at a chilly 35 degrees. Pratt was not in attendance at the unveiling.


The butter cow is located, appropriately enough, in the Dairy Building on the fairgrounds, but if don't make it down to Springfield to see it, you check out the butter cow via the live butter cow web cam at


©2019 The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.

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