Signaling the imminent opening of the 2015 Pennsylvania Farm Show, officials Thursday unveiled the show's 25th annual butter sculpture — a tribute to a public-private initiative that provides free milk to the poor.
The life-size sculpture, consisting of 1,100 pounds of butter, depicts a food bank worker pouring milk into a boy's cup while his mother looks on holding a bag of groceries. They stand in front of a cooler filled with gallons of milk bearing the message, "Fill a Glass with Hope." A farmer and his cow stand nearby.
Conshohocken artist Jim Victor said he and his wife, Marie Pelton, completed the sculpture in 11 days working inside a refrigerated glass display case at the sprawling farm show complex. She welded the metal and wood armatures that hold the sculpted figures in place, while he shapes what the public sees.
"It's a lot of work," said Victor, 69, who has done the sculptures every year since 2003.
State Agriculture Secretary George Greig, who unveiled the sculpture, touted the partnership that "gets milk into the hands of Pennsylvanians who need it the most."
Through the program, dairy farmers ship milk to Harrisburg Dairies to be processed and sold at a discount to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, which in turn provides free milk to local pantries across the central third of the state.
Brad Peterson, a spokesman for the food bank, said it provides 3,000 quarts of milk per week to the pantries and hopes to increase that to 5,000 quarts a week by the end of the program's first year in June.
The farm show complex, which covers 24 acres under one roof, bills itself the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation. The weeklong show gets underway Saturday, featuring events that range from rodeos to pie contests as well as nearly 6,000 animals and 10,000 competitive exhibits. Admission is free.