SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WWTI) — A “legen-DAIRY” sculpture was unveiled at the New York State Fairgrounds on Thursday morning.

The American Dairy Association North East unveiled its 53rd Annual Butter Sculptor on the eve of the New York State Fair opening day. The theme for this year’s sculpture is “Back to School, Sports and Play… You’re Gonna Need Milk for That,” as the state prepares to return youth to school and recreation this fall.

The three-part sculpture was constructed over a 10-day period by artists Jim Victor and Marie Pelton of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. This is the 19th consecutive year Victor and Pelton have created the Butter Sculpture at the New York State Fair.

According to ADANE, accompanying the sculpture are the results from a recent impact study led by GENYOUth. This study examined the effects of COVID-19 on teens, and highlighted three things younger individuals have missed since the start of the pandemic. This included activities that connect others, remaining close to friends and participating in sports.

These three aspects were captured in the annual butter sculpture. The dairy-based created depicts teens in a school cafeteria, on a soccer field, and at home gaming. Sculptor creators shared that the scene illustrates how dairy products are an “important component” of meals at home, school or while with friends.

“Cow’s milk has unparalleled health and wellness benefits,” American Dairy Association North East President Audrey Donahoe said in a press release. “We’re proud to provide the fuel people need to power through their day, because no matter what your day looks like, ‘You’re Gonna Need Milk For That.’”  

The sculpture also is a play on the national industry campaign “You’re Gonna Need Milk for That.” This campaign is led by milk processors and supported by New York dairy farmers to reinforce the role milk plays in powering performance on and off the athletic field.

Additionally, the sculpture highlight’s the partnership between New York dairy farmers and high school athletes through their sponsorship of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. NYSPHSAA General Manager Joe deGuzman shared his appreciation of the partnership.

“New York Dairy farmers support NYSPHSAA student-athletes through nutrition education and sponsorship of our scholar athlete, sportsmanship and student leadership programs,” deGuzman stated. “One of the highlights of any NYSPHSAA championship event is the student-athletes enjoying chocolate milk after a hard-fought contest. Proper nutrition including milk and dairy foods plays an important role in maximizing athletic performance.”

The 53rd Annual Butter Sculpture will be on display to visitors starting August 20. Along with viewing the butter sculpture, fairgoers can participate in an interactive “Milk Moves Me” photo booth in the Dairy Products Building and create a GIF of themselves sparring with U.S. Olympic Bronze medalist Ariel Torres.

After the fair, the sculpture will be deconstructed and transported to Noblehurst Farms in Linwood, N.Y., where it will be recycled in a methane digester to create renewable energy.