Sizzling end for State Fair’s popular butter sculpture

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SYRACUSE — The 53rd Annual New York State Fair has come and gone — and so too has the 800-pound butter sculpture. While the sculpture can’t be used on toast, it isn’t going to waste.

The American Dairy Association North East, in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and Noblehurst Farms, dismantled the 800-pound sculpture at the fairgrounds after the 18-day State Fair closed after Labor Day. Ultimately, the butter – which was provided by O-AT-KA Milk Products in Batavia, was unsuitable for sale or consumption due to defects in packaging – returned to western New York, less than 15 miles away from where it was originally produced. There, it will be recycled at a local dairy farm. 

Noblehurst Farms, in Pavilion in Livingston County, will combine the butter with other food waste from local food manufacturers and educational institutions and run it through the farm’s digester, converting it into energy.

The digester breaks down the material and creates enough electricity to power the farm, the farm’s on-site creamery and about 350 homes for a year.

Specifically, the butter from the Butter Sculpture alone will be able to power one house for three days. 

“We are honored to be recycling the New York State Fair Butter Sculpture for the sixth year in a row,” said dairy farmer Chris Noble of Noblehurst Farms and Craigs Creamery. “We will mix the butter sculpture with other food waste and convert it to energy over the course of about 28 days. That energy will be created into electricity which will power homes in the local community.”

In recent years, Noblehurst Farms has been recognized nationally for achievements in sustainability and community partnerships to divert food waste from local landfills. The result of Noblehurst’s efforts have led to diverting 200 tons of food waste from local landfills on a weekly basis.

“Our awareness of the role that dairy farmers are playing in addressing the global food waste problem has definitely heightened,” said Noble. “We are hopeful that our innovative food waste reduction practices will bring additional value as New York State focuses on reducing methane and sequestering carbon in the coming years.”

This year’s sculpture, “Back to School, Sports, and Play...You’re Gonna Need Milk For That,” featured three scenes - teens in a school cafeteria, on a soccer field, and at home gaming. The masterpiece illustrated that whether in school, participating in sports or at play with their friends, dairy products are an important component of meals and snacks offering essential nutrients to power learning and fuel physical activities.

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