The magic of the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show butter sculpture, which attracts thousands of visitors to the refrigerated glass case in Harrisburg's Farm Show Complex every January, will be absent this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But that doesn't mean you can't make a buttery creation of your own, right in your own home.
In fact, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is giving you an incentive to make a home butter sculpture by running a contest in which you may be rewarded for your efforts.
The agriculture department has announced its Butter Up! contest, in which your dairy sculpture has a chance to win one of a variety of gift cards from members of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association.
Winners and runners-up in various age categories will win $50 and $25 gift cards from such companies as Giant and Wegmans.
Once you've created your masterpiece out of butter, hand-write your full name and age on a piece of paper, along with "2021 Butter Sculpture Entry," and then photograph it.
Send the photo to the Farm Show Facebook page as a private message, along with your name, age, county you live in, phone number and the name of your favorite Pennsylvania dairy product. A parent or legal guardian must send the entry for minors.
A few contest rules from the agriculture department:
• You must use at least 5 pounds of butter in your sculpture.
• You may not use any food dye or coloring to enhance the color of the butter.
• The sculpture must be your own work.
• You may use chicken wire, sculpting wire and a base to support the design.
• And please: No obscene or vulgar sculptures; the agriculture department reserves the right to disqualify entries that are "offensive to standards of modesty and decency."
The agriculture department encourages — but does not require — entrants to use Pennsylvania butter in their sculptures, in order to support the state's dairy industry. You can look for the PA Preferred logo to make sure the butter is from the Keystone State, or you can buy locally sourced butter from a farmers market.
Entries will be accepted during this year’s virtual Pennsylvania Farm Show, from Saturday, Jan. 9, through 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16.
Entries will be judged by fans in five age group categories: elementary school (ages 5-10), middle school (ages 11-13), high school (ages 14-18), adult (ages 19-64) and senior (ages 65+).
The ag department will post the entries Monday, Jan. 18, on the Farm Show Facebook page, for judging from Jan. 18-22. The winners will be determined by the total number of reactions (likes, "wows" etc.) their entries receive on Facebook. There will be one winner per age group.
The department will post the winner by the end of the day Jan. 25.
For the complete rules for the contest, visit the website at http://bit.ly/ButterUpRules
Though the Pennsylvania Farm Show is being held virtually this year because of the pandemic, you can experience the show Jan. 11-15 on Facebook, Instagram, the Farm Show website and the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Previews and light programming will run the weekend of Jan. 9-10.