Little did Linda Christensen know when she walked into a 40-degree, rotating cooler in 1972 that inside that cooler, over the next 50 fairs, she would carve 41,500 pounds of butter into the likenesses of more than 550 young women involved in dairy farming.
In that time, traditions developed around the “butterheads” including the lives they go on to live after the fair, some as centerpieces on wedding tables, in cookie dough for hundreds of holiday baking exchanges, at town corn feeds, and church pancake breakfasts. Some remain in farm family freezers for decades.
Linda jokes that through cooler conversations with her subjects she has achieved at least a graduate degree in theoretical dairy farming. She has also learned much about the history of butter, of butter sculpting, of women's traditional contributions to their home dairies, and the new story of women dairy farmers.
Minnesotans have honored Linda for gaining the state and its dairy farmers national recognition. She enjoys the status of Minnesota icon. Now she relives her many unique memories, not only of her butter carving history but of her early life and journey to becoming the woman who carves butter at the Minnesota State Fair.
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"As a child growing up attending the fairs in the early 70's we would watch these sculptures being crafted for what seemed like hours. Continuing on the tradition with our children and now grandchildren the joy of sharing that experience had come full circle.
This book is beautifully written and thoroughly documents the full history of these amazing works of art along with a significant background on the process and some fun history on the Minnesota state fair."
Butter carver confessional: A memoir of the longtime Minnesota State Fair butter sculptor
Linda Christensen carved Big Bird and David Letterman was on a first-name basis with plenty of princesses and was courted by reality TV.
By Richard Chin Star Tribune