Rest in peace, butter cow lady

It’s always a sad feeling when you first learn about a special person the week they die. This happened to me today with Norma Lyon, nicknamed Iowa fair’s “butter cow lady”. I wasn’t born and raised in this country and I’ve never spent much time in the Midwest, so I probably have a few excuses for not knowing anything about “Duffy”. But I have to admit this lady was quite amazing!

Norma Lyon, the butter cow lady

Norma Lyon, the butter cow lady

Norma Lyon created her first cow sculpture out of 600 pounds of butter for the Iowa State Fair in 1959. She continued on making cow butter sculptures, as well as other artwork including farm animals, Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Smokey Bear and a rendition of the Last Supper. Some words I never thought I’d put all together in a single sentence – quite an ecclectic taste and talent!

Norma Lyon wasn’t the one to invent and create the first butter cow sculpture. The Iowa State Fair had been featuring them since 1911 but she put in her own twist and even trained other artists in butter sculpture in her later years.

Norma "Duffy" Lyon (The Butter Cow Lady) taught Deborah Brown and Barbara Westover how to create a butter sculpture

Norma "Duffy" Lyon (The Butter Cow Lady) taught Deborah Brown and Barbara Westover how to create a butter sculpture

What a fun part of her life it must have been to join the Iowa State Fair every year and introduce new creations out of her 40-degree-cold art tudio! These sculptures really give a whole new meaning to “dairy” cows.

It just occurred to me I should make sure my kids don’t get to see today’s post. I can’t imagine them attempting to create their own butter sculptures in my kitchen…

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2 responses to “Rest in peace, butter cow lady

  1. HAHAHA, I just pictured little boys trying to make sculptures from butter! THAT would make some mess, alright!
    I had never heard of her either but WOW, such talent to make all of THAT from butter!

    • Oh, I don’t feel so bad now if you’ve never heard of her either. I can imagine how butter would be great material for sculpting, as good as clay, expect you have to stay somewhere cold for a long time!

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