Legends & Legacies View More

The Butter Cow Lady

Published: 6/28/2011

We'll admit, we didn't know Norma "Duffy" Lyon's name before yesterday – the day we learned of her death. But now that we know who she is, we can't get enough.

If you aren't familiar with her either, here's a hint: she was also known as The Butter Cow Lady.

Yes, that's Lyon with a life-sized cow sculpted from butter. For 46 years, Lyon sculpted butter cows for the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, where they were the number one fair attraction.

Each year, Lyon created a new cow for the fair, using 600 pounds of Iowa butter and working in a 40-degree cooler for about 16 hours. This 1974 clip from Iowa Public Television shows Lyon in action:

Lyon wasn't the first to sculpt such a cow – the tradition at the fair dates back to 1911. And cows weren't all she sculpted of butter. She created statues of celebs like Elvis Presley and John Wayne, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle… even a replica of the Last Supper.

Norma "Duffy" Lyon, 1999 (AP Photo)

Art comes in all forms, and Lyon's butter sculptures took true talent – a talent that not a lot of people have. We hope her tradition of butter cows will continue at state fairs for years to come.

comments powered by Disqus
Our Picks