Hutchinson A woman who creates butter sculptures at state fairs across the country is in Hutchinson working on this year’s sculpture for the Kansas State Fair. But don’t bother even asking Sharon BuMann what she’s creating out of 700 pounds of recycled butter.
And forget peeking. Red sheets of paper have been taped over the glass on the north doors of the Pride of Kansas Building in the artist’s studio. The only thing BuMann will say is that the sculpture will be nothing anyone has seen before in a butter sculpture at the Kansas State Fair, The Hutchinson News reported.
“I’m not divulging anything this year,” BuMann said, adding with a smile that the glass-enclosed refrigerated case, where the sculpture is displayed, has been modified to enhance the artwork.
BuMann arrived in Hutchinson Aug. 19 after completing a butter sculpture at the Illinois State Fair.
The high-energy sculptor, who works with bronze and metals most of the year, says it usually takes about 10 days to turn the butter into shapes that tell a story. She said she might work faster this year because she trained since January and recently completed the Iron Girl Triathlon in Syracuse, N.Y.
“It makes butter sculpting easier,” she said of her new physical fitness. She said the increased stamina helped her finish the Illinois butter sculpture days ahead of schedule.
This week, she hurried between the Pride of Kansas Building and fair manager Denny Stoecklein’s office in the administration building, trying to coordinate supplies she needed.
“Denny is marvelous, he just says surprise me,” BuMann said, allowing the artist free rein to “go crazy in Kansas” with butter ideas.
A New Yorker, BuMann first got into butter sculptures when the New York State Fair advertised for a butter sculptor and she decided to try.
Butter sculptures have been part of fairs throughout history, according to Pamela Simpson, a Washington and Lee University art history professor. Simpson said the tradition began at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 where a bust of a literary heroine in a milk pan over ice was displayed. Refrigeration gave butter sculptures a boost.
A large refrigerator set at 37 degrees will be BuMann’s studio. She’ll be dressed in Under Armour, a rain suit and two layers of rubber gloves as she works.
Meanwhile, preparations are under way on other aspects of this year’s fair.
Across from Ye Old Grill, workers are creating a new restaurant inside the former Danny’s Smoke House. Ye Old Grill is being remodeled, complete with 100-year-old tin from the roof of a church ceiling in Lewis.
The greatest attraction will be the large round steel grill where the chef will cook, visible to fairgoers as they walk to and from the Midway.