It’s big. It’s intricate. It’s made of more than a thousand pounds of dairy.
It’s the Pennsylvania Farm Show butter sculpture.
And this year when the curtain rose, it revealed something a little different from previous years.
Gone are the usual figures of life-sized livestock and produce, and, in their place, glistens a detailed pastoral ecosystem. Buttery mountains, rivers, and forests frame a tiny farm, complete with grazing livestock.
Marie Pelton and Jim Victor of Conshohocken are the couple behind the butter. Both are professional artists and sculptors; Jim has been involved with the farm show every year since 2003, and Marie joined him in 2007.
Marie said sculpting this year’s scene was a welcome challenge.
“With something like this, you’re almost kind of flying by the seat of your pants,” she said. “So you’re using your imagination a lot — it’s not going to come out exactly the way the original sketch did. And so you kind of fill in the spots and just make it interesting to look at.”
And Jim noted, it’s not just interesting to look at. Every year, the Department of Agriculture and the American Dairy Association present the sculptors with a theme. This year’s was clean water.
“I thought this was such a great thing to be a part of — seeing that Pennsylvania’s really doing positive stuff here and making sure that the water is clean,” he said.
Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, one of the people who come up with the theme every year, said the farm show used to just be about selling produce. But these days, with the event entering its second century of operation, things are a little more complicated.
“The show has now kind of morphed into one of consumer connectedness with the farm and completely changes the narrative for us to one of, who’s feeding you? And what does it take to really keep it here in Pennsylvania?” he said.
The 101st annual farm show officially opens on Saturday, and runs for a full week.