The Suitcase Lady


August 11, 2020, 9:09 pm

I love my neighbor state of Minnesota for many reasons, but their keen appreciation of butter is high on my list. Where else can you watch ladies’ heads being carved out of giant blocks of butter?

Even though Covid has caused the mighty Minnesota State Fair to be canceled, one of its premier events will go forward virtually. For the 55th consecutive year, Princess Kay of the Milky Way and all nine of her princesses will have their butter portraits carved. Note that the “Milky Way” in the princesses’ title refers to dairy products, not stars. The princess pageant started in 1954; the butter heads idea began in 1965.

This stellar event is sponsored by the Minnesota dairy industry and it’s a big deal…a 900 pounds of Grade A salted butter deal. The butter sculptures are created in a 38 degree revolving glass booth so all the fairgoers can watch the artwork being created. (Except for this year when there will be no audience of fairgoers.)

For the past 48 years, a California artist, Linda Christensen, has made the carvings. This year, travel restrictions keep her from traveling to Minnesota, and her apprentice, Gerry Kulzer, will take up the daunting task of sculpting the ten butter busts. Although relieved that he won’t have thousands of people outside the glass walls watching his debut, he is concerned about getting frozen fingers.

At fair’s end, the ten dairy princesses get to keep their heads. Some chop them up and eat them. Rumor has it that one ex-princess still has her head in her freezer….50 years later.

My home state of Wisconsin has a dairy princess as well. She is called Alice in Dairyland, and she does not get her likeness sculpted in butter. Hopefully, she gets a few of the famous State Fair cream puffs for being a good girl and drinking buckets of milk.

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