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American Dairy Association North East creates art from 800 pounds of waste butter

A butter sculpture behind a pane of glass
The 54th annual butter sculpture, "Refuel Her Greatness" American Dairy Association North East

More than 800 pounds of butter has arrived at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, N.Y., as construction of one of Central New York's most beloved attractions gets underway: the 55th Annual American Dairy Association North East Butter Sculpture.

Over the weekend, sculptors Jim Victor and Marie Pelton began to create the annual sculpture, a process that will take approximately 11 days to complete.

"For 55 years, the butter sculpture has been an iconic, can't-miss attraction that has entertained millions of fairgoers," says John Chrisman, CEO of the American Dairy Association North East. "This unique tradition pays tribute to our hardworking dairy farm families who work 365 days a year to sustainably and responsibly produce milk."

The butter used for the sculpture comes from Batavia, N.Y.-based producer O-AT-KA Milk Products is out of specification and unable to be sold or consumed for a variety of reasons. Instead of wasting the out-of-specification butter, the American Dairy Association North East put the butter to good use by creating a beautiful piece of art in partnership with the sculptors.

Following its 13-day stint at the fair, the butter will return to Western New York where it will be recycled into renewable energy at Noblehurst Farms, a dairy farm in Pavilion, N.Y. Noblehurst Farm's recycling program turns over 500 tons of food waste from supermarkets, universities, and schools each month into enough energy to power the farm and over 300 local homes. The recycling program not only reduces the farm's carbon footprint, it diverts all of that food waste from landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year's butter sculpture was "Refuel Her Greatness" and it celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Title IX.

American Dairy Association North East will unveil the 55th annual butter sculpture on Tuesday, August 22, the day before the fair officially opens. It will then be on display in the Dairy Products Building for the duration of the fair.

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