Every year, when the Greatest Get Together of Them All – a.k.a. the Minnesota State Fair – rolls around, we get to indulge in a slew of iconic traditions: eating all the foods on sticks, glancing at mesmerizing displays of artistry made from seeds, sitting atop at least one tractor and watching the “Butter Lady” sculpt the busts of all the Princess of the Milky Way finalists. Better known as Linda Chistensen, the “Butter Lady” – or sculptor, which may be more apropos – carves the young women’s likenesses out of 90-pound blocks of butter specifically poured for the Minnesota State Fair; and she does her work in a wintery room that’s set at 38 degrees.
As spokespeople of the dairy industry, the Princesses Kay of the Milky Way work hard on their families’ dairy farms – and Christensen’s busts of their likenesses provide them with a little dash of glamour and delight.
A graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she has had her own line of gift cards, and has even created a bust of Conan O’Brien from bacon and white chocolate. Unlike other sculptors who use wire or wooden frames to form busts, she strips away material from a solid block, which is why she likens her process to carving instead of sculpture. She is also the only butter carver in the nation to work with live models. .
You can never, ever have too much Minnesota State Fair in your life, so why not step back to the year 1992 and meet some memorable “State Fair People.”
In recent years, the Black Lives Movement has had a strong presence at the Minnesota State Fair – and yet, the “get-together” hasn’t always been “great” to African Americans throughout history. Discover more about “A Short History of African Americans at the Minnesota State Fair.”
For the past few years, Minnesota storyteller Kevin Kling has joined the Almanac crew to share a monologue about some of his favorite State Fair traditions. Find out why he and his brother still refer to one Midway ride as “The Return of the Corn Dog.”