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You win, PETA: Iowa State Fair won't have Michael Jackson butter sculpture

Butter cow One of the most beloved traditions at the annual Iowa State Fair is the butter cow -- a sculpture that is, well, exactly what it sounds like. Renowned butter sculptor Norma "Duffy" Lyon started the tradition in 1960 and created life-sized butter cows (as well as celebrities, well-known fictional characters and even a butter recreation of the painting "American Gothic") for the fair until her retirement a few years ago. Even with Lyon out of the picture, the butter-sculpture tradition continues -- her apprentice took over when she retired.

Shortly after Michael Jackson's death last month, fair officials announced that the King of Pop would be the latest celebrity (like Elvis and John Wayne before him) to be commemorated with a butter sculpture. 

The idea went over like a lead balloon both with people offended by Jackson's strange lifestyle and, on the other side of the fence, with PETA. The group's executive vice president, Tracy Reiman, promptly fired off a letter to the Iowa State Fair's CEO in which she asked that Jackson's likeness not be sculpted from butter, but from a nondairy substitute instead.

The temptation of quoting from Jackson's extensive song catalog proved too much for Reiman, who closed her letter with, "Making the statue out of cruel and unhealthy dairy products is simply a 'bad' idea. In honor of Michael's concern for kids' health, please use dairy-free butter for the statue -- we're sure you'll find that you can't 'beat it.' "

In light of the public's disdain for a Jackson sculpture, the fair's organizers decided to put the issue to a vote and placed a poll on the Iowa State Fair website. From the Des Moines Register:

Conservatives and traditionalists find themselves opposed to Jackson's depiction in butter. The allegations of pedophilia and blatant bizarre behavior are simply too much for them. Then we have PETA, which often goes to the extreme left to make its point.

Both factions are likely voting as fast as they can to keep Jackson out of the exhibit. For different reasons.

When the vote ended Friday, fair officials said it wasn't even close. About 100,000 votes were cast (no word on how many individual voters that represents, since one assumes those with strong feelings may have voted multiple times in what the fair's own statement called an unscientific poll), and about 65% of them said no way to Butter Jackson.  

So, with that, PETA wins a round in the fight against dairy products. But a Jersey cow sculpture and a diorama of the 1969 moon landing will be sculpted from butter as planned, with no dairy-free spread in sight. 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Renowned butter sculptor Norma "Duffy" Lyon, now retired, stands next to the life-size dairy cow she created for the 2003 Iowa State Fair. Credit: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (8)

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Not sure how this article's author thought PETA won when the sculpture is still rightly being made from true butter. . .

Why not give the win to the people who voted and pick another more notary figure like Ed Packerman, the slain football coach, for his achievements of character.

PETA used this as advertisement only , those fairs have gone from years . When there is not a Butter sculpture thing then it is cheese or chocolate. Has PETA said something then? Have they now prohibited the other butter sculptures ? (NO) So whats the deal with MJ .
They will keep making tons of butter sculptures but PETA says nothing , shame on them using MJ to get some attention. They must be desperate.

PETA. People eating tasty animals.

The people who set up the internet voting are CLUELESS. It's easy to hack most polls on the internet and in high numbers too. I for example can easily send over 100,000 votes through automated scrips, programs and/or macros. In fact I can vote in my sleep if I like. And there are others like me who know how to do the same thing. Many polls are ruined this way. All it would take is one person on PETA's side with the know how and they could easily vote against the butter sculpture. Or for it. I often find that polls are voted for against MJ with cheating methods. Before any one questions me. I am a computer expert and know what I'm talking about. It' just too difficult to prove to people who don't know better over the internet. But it should be obvious that what I'm saying is true.

Please, enough about the butter debates...I am so sick of seeing this in second position of Google news when I am looking for updates on Michael.

Peta wins? Did your editor even read your story?! Old media at it finest!

Hey anya - you're looking for Michael updates. The last update is that he's still dead.

Regardless of my/your feelings about PETA, this story doesn't make sense.
I do not see how PETA "won." They didn't get anything they wanted--a sculpture is still being built out of butter. The vote in fact had nothing to whether or not to have a butter sculpture (the Iowa state fair always has two--a cow and something topical), the vote was what the likeness of the second one should be. There was no question in the poll about material (I'm also guessing that a moon landing sculpture would use more butter than the gaunt pop star).
It sounds to me like Lindsay Barnett does not like PETA and let that cloud the story.


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