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Courtesy of Shannon Powers

Garrett McCall’s “Good Shepherd” entry took gold in last year’s Butter Up! butter sculpture contest. Powers said after each farm show, the large sculpture is melted down and converted into clean energy that powers a Pennsylvania farm.

Together with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association is spreading joy this season through its second-annual Butter Up! butter sculpture contest.

“Every year, millions tune in to see the unveiling of a 1,000-pound sculpture to kick off our annual Pennsylvania Farm Show,” agriculture secretary Russell Redding said in a news release. “Now everyone can get in the act and show off their artistic flair with one of Pennsylvania’s favorite products.”

For decades, folks across the commonwealth have ogled at the artistry of butter sculptures on display at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show – including the 2020 sculpture of mascots Gritty, Swoop and Steely McBeam tailgating with a dairy delicious spread.

Last year, the PFMA was forced to cancel its annual butter sculpture due to the pandemic, but buttered up the disappointed public with a unique opportunity to create and share butter sculptures from the comfort of home.

“Every year, the butter sculpture is a favorite element of the farm show. It gets this tremendous media coverage all over the world,” said Shannon Powers, press secretary for the Pennsylvania DOA. “We were trying to be creative and think of ways that we could bring Pennsylvania agriculture into people’s homes. Last year, (we) came up with a home butter sculpture competition. It was wildly popular.”

Butter sculptors of all ages are invited to create their own unique work of art using up to five pounds of butter and chicken or sculpting wire to support the design. Powers encourages artists to sculpt with local butter; packaging is marked with a PA Preferred logo or a bar code beginning with “42.”

Dye and coloring of any kind to enhance the butter is prohibited.

“We are a huge dairy-producing state,” Powers said. “Most of the dairy produced in Pennsylvania is actually produced on small family farms. You’re supporting a family in your community and feeding your local economy.”

The virtual contest began Friday, and entries will be accepted through noon Dec. 10.

“People got in the act last year and enjoyed it so much,” said Powers, who was surprised when 130 entrants submitted sculptures to the contest.

The sculpture contest, a social media sensation, was featured on podcasts. Powers said a state trooper even created a funny production video for the virtual competition.

“The entries blew me away,” Powers said, marveling at the complexity of submissions like a butter-creamy cactus, a statue of Harry Potter battling a dragon and a bust of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “They really capture something.”

To enter, contestants should take a photo of their original sculpture beside a handwritten paper stating entrant’s first and last name, age, and “2022 Butter Sculpture Entry.”

Send the photo to agcontests@pa.gov with the subject “Butter Up Entry.” Email must include entrant’s name, age, county, phone number and favorite dairy product (no bonus points if that product’s dairy!).

A parent or legal guardian must submit any entries for minors 17 and younger.

Voting begins Dec. 13 on the Pennsylvania Farm Show Facebook page, where winners will be selected by the number of reactions to each photo. Voting closes at noon Dec. 17, and winners will be announced via Facebook on Dec. 20.

“It was tremendous entertainment last year. Entertainment with a little education,” said Powers. “We’re hoping for the same thing this year. We hope everyone will join the fun.”

For more information on the farm show or sculpture contest, visit https://www.farmshow.pa.gov/pafarmshow/Pages/Butter-Up!-.aspx.

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