This is a travel story that spans 109 years and 168 miles-- my favorite kind. You may jump into any part of the 2017 portion you like. For part of it, you’ll need to quickly get to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Or you can visit the other end of the line: Davenport.
In 1908, Isabel Scherer was born in Galveston, Texas. In 1911, J.K. Daniels sculpted the first butter cow for the Iowa State Fair. Commercial artificial refrigeration was at the end of its nascent period. Widespread refrigeration for the home was still being developed. Isabel Scherer became Isabel Bloom and, across the 20th Century, established herself as the well-loved sculptor we know today. Save for a few World War Two years, the Butter Cow gets recreated every year.
This summer at the fair, the two cultural giants of the Butter Cow and Isabel Bloom fused their talents. An Isabel Bloom butter cow sculpture ($35.00) was created for the Blue Ribbon Foundation to sell as a fundraiser. The foundation raises money to keep the fair going strong. If you can still make it to the fair, you can get one there in the foundation's "souvenir stand." If not, they may be available at the foundation’s website after the fair is over. Of course, you can visit the fair any year to see the Butter Cow and companion sculpture pieces. You can also visit the Bloom production center and main showroom anytime in Davenport.
Davenport is only 168 miles from Des Moines. It’s easy to execute a trip riding the lanes of history, visiting the butter cow and the Bloom headquarters.
As a fun game to play during the car ride, think of what other Iowa creatives and organizations you’d like to see collaborate. If you think up some, please share them in the comments!
Photo credit: Patrick Muller, 2017 Butter Cow, Iowa State Fair