A Minnesota Tradition: Carving Butter Heads - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

A Minnesota Tradition: Carving Butter Heads

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St. Paul, MN (WXOW) - Each year at the end of the summer millions of people head to St. Paul for the Minnesota State Fair.

For the last 61 years 12 women have come home from the fair with a very special, very edible souvenir, their head carved in butter.

In the Dairy Building at the fair crowds gather to watch a masterpiece in the making.

"There's a little pressure to get it to look good," said Linda Christensen whose been carving butter heads for 43 years.

She carves a head out of a 90 pound block of butter.  Linda said, "It's a real Minnesota tradition like no other."

Getting your head carved in butter is a Minnesota tradition that dates back to the 1880's.

"There's a whole culture built around the Princess Kay and the butter head," said Christensen.

Princess Kay of the Milky Way is the title awarded to the winner of the Minnesota Dairy Princess program.  Eleven Princess Kay finalists and the winner get more than just the title, they get their head carved in an edible buttery creation.

"When I came up here for 4-H I came in here and saw these giant blocks of butter...I could be that someday and here I actually am," said 19-year-old Chelsea Schossow, a Princess Kay finalist from Winona County.

Chelsea and Linda spend almost all day in a 40 degree rotating display case.  "The temperature, trying to work with gloves on when you need details that's unique," explained Christensen.

"She has a gift, a talent," said Schossow of Christensen.

Linda uses clay tools and kitchen utensils to carve Chelsea's face and hair, she wears non breathable rain gear, layers of fleece, and long underwear to keep warm.

The girls get to bring their butter heads back home. Some of them have a community melt down and melt the butter, others donate it to local food pantries, and some keep it in freezers.

Chelsea said she is going to melt hers from the shoulders down and have a community meal with corn and baked potatoes.

News 19's Assignment Manager Stacy Brogan was a Princess Kay finalist seven years ago and still has her butter head in a freezer at home.

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