CLICK HERE TO READ THE OTTUMWA POST
CLICK HERE FOR SELECTED COLUMNS BY JAMES GROB
She's Our Butter Cow, Right or Wrong
By JAMES GROB
Yes, we Iowans are self-aware. We know very well that a "butter cow" is a silly thing, but we're not ashamed of that.
In fact, we are proud to celebrate something that's a little bit silly. Aren't there enough serious, solemn and important things out there already? Every time you turn around someone is asking you to take a moment to honor the Good Lord, our fathers and mothers, our flag, our brave soldiers, disabled kids, farmers, firefighters, teachers, the police, our forefathers, the Constitution, semiautomatic weapons, fine artists, noble statesmen, the tired, the poor and the huddled masses. We're more than happy to say a sincere silent prayer on behalf of every single one of those entities, or whatever it is you want us to do to honor them. Heck, if you ask us nicely, we might even share something about them on our Facebook pages.
But sometimes, we need to take a minute to forget about all those solemn, serious things and tip our collective proverbial hats to something silly, like a butter cow.
If you haven't heard, earlier this week terrorists attacked the Butter Cow, a sculpture traditionally displayed every year at the Iowa State Fair. If you're not from Iowa or not familiar with the Iowa State Fair, a butter cow sculpture is exactly what it sounds like it is. It's a detailed, life-sized, sculpted work of art in the shape of a cow, made from about 600 pounds of butter. It's "low moisture, pure cream Iowa butter," according to the Iowa State Fair's Web site. It's stored in and displayed from a 40-degree cooler, it's usually about 5-and-a-half feet high and 8-feet long, and it's usually accompanied with another piece of butter artwork, like a Butter Abe Lincoln or a Butter Elvis or a Butter Tiger Woods.
They've been having the Butter Cow since 1911. Her current sculptor is the very talented Sarah Pratt, who is the fifth official Butter Cow creator.
Early Monday morning, a terrorist cell known as "Iowans for Animal Liberation" apparently struck the Butter Cow, covering her in red paint, then sending an email claiming responsibility to local media. Members of the group evidently hid in the Agricultural Building until it closed. They then dismantled the lock to the cooler with a screwdriver and poured red paint all over the Butter Cow. According to the group, the red paint "represents the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms and dairies."
It's enough to make you want to go out and buy a double cheeseburger.
The actual harm done was minimal. Pratt, the sculptor, was called in around 4 a.m. She got right to work and fixed the Butter Cow, so by the time fair-goers were arriving, there was little sign of the fake blood.
But the problem is, the incident made national news. A whole bunch of cable news talking heads were blathering on about it on Monday, and they all seemed to be rolling their eyes as they did it, making fun of those simple Midwestern folk there in Iowa, who take their Butter Cow way too seriously.
And the thing is, they're wrong. We don't take her too seriously -- we know she's silly, we laugh about her, too. We appreciate the talent it takes to create her, but we love the Butter Cow because she is a silly thing we can laugh about in a world that's just too darn serious most of the time.
So quit rolling your eyes and lilting your voices when you talk about our Butter Cow, you corporate news jocks. And for the love of all that is holy, quit with the puns. If I hear one more news reporter say something like "Iowans were 'udder-ly' terrified by an animal rights group yesterday ... " I'm going to throw something at the TV.
She's our Butter Cow, and we like her. And if you were us, you'd like her, too.
Now please leave us alone and report on something solemn and serious.