Since 1955, the Midwest Dairy Association has crowned the winner of the annual Minnesota Dairy Princess Program as “Princess Kay of the Milky Way,” and since 1965, that woman’s head has been carved into butter.
At the State Fair, one sculptor carves twelve “butter heads” during the twelve days of the annual Minnesota State Fair, including the new princess and eleven finalists. On the first day, the princess, cloaked in warm layers, joins the sculptor for six to eight hours in a 40-degree, glass-walled booth. With awestruck fairgoers passing by, the artist uses knives and a floss-like cord to transform a 90-pound block of butter into a regal likeness. Each day thereafter another finalist joins the sculptor in this chilly spectator event. As for the heads, while many contestants keep them, limited refrigerator space makes a community “corn feed” featuring warm, melted butter heads another popular option. Sliced slabs of butter heads also find their way to local schools and the occasional Princess Kay of the Milky Way wedding.
With more than 500 sculptures and 32,000 pounds of butter under her belt, Linda Christensen has been the artist behind the butter heads for more than 40 years. To get a gander at her most recent masterpieces, head to the Minnesota State Fair from late August through early September.
Need to Know
For those who might want the honor of their own butter head, becoming a dairy princess isn't easy. In addition to working in the local dairy industry (or having a parent who does), candidates must participate in a personal interview, prepare and deliver a speech, and participate in a mock media interview.