While the 2021 Pennsylvania Farm Show will be virtual, it will skip one of its most beloved features due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that the annual butter sculpture, a highlight of the show, scheduled for Jan. 9 to Jan. 16, has been canceled as cases and hospitalizations continue to surge across the commonwealth.
“While we are heartbroken to have to cancel popular features of our annual Farm Show, we simply cannot afford to compromise the health and safety of our staff, the sculptors who would have to travel to Harrisburg, and those involved in recording and broadcasting virtual events,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a statement.
Jim Victor and Marie Pelton, the Conshohocken couple who’ve created nearly every butter sculpture for the Pennsylvania Farm Show over the last two decades, said they had an idea in place and were sketching out their work when they got word of the cancellation.
“It’s a big disappointment,” Victor said. “We did a butter sculpture in New York this summer and we thought this was going to go, but with this big spike in COVID, I guess not.”
Victor said this year’s sculpture was going to have a “farm-to-family” theme, with a farmer delivering food directly to a family’s table. Victor said he wasn’t sure if they would have incorporated masks into the sculpture like he and his wife did for the 52nd annual American Dairy Association North East butter sculpture at the virtual New York State Fair this summer.
“There was still lots of time to think about it,” he said.
Victor said he and Pelton still have big projects in the works in the coming year, including one for a “major chocolate company” as well as an appearance on a television program about food sculptures.
“The butter will be back next year,” he said.
Redding said the online event, with the theme “cultivating tomorrow,” will feature video tours and conversations that invite Pennsylvanians “to encounter agriculture for the first time or to see it from a whole new perspective from the safety of their homes.”