The Iowa State Fair’s iconic butter cow — a meticulously sculpted 600-pound slab of bovine-shaped butter traditional to the event since 1911 — has been restored to pristine status after vegan vandals slathered it in red paint early Sunday morning.
The animal rights activists, who identified themselves as “Iowans for Animal Liberation” in an email to the Des Moines Register after the act, apparently hid in the fairgrounds’ Agriculture Building (located in east Des Moines) Saturday evening, waiting for the fair to close. Then they broke into a refrigerated room where the massive butter cow was held for display and poured red paint over it, painting the words “Freedom For All” on the exhibit’s display window.
“After dismantling the lock to the refrigerated case housing the Butter Cow with a screwdriver, we doused the entire butter sculpture in red paint,” read the email, according to the Register. “The paint represents the blood of 11 billion animals murdered each year in slaughterhouses, egg farms, and dairies.” The group goes on to paint its actions as a “wake up call” to those who consume animal products, warning that they’re “directly supporting suffering and misery on the largest scale the world has ever known.”
No one has yet been arrested, but Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright noted authorities are reviewing security footage taken of the building’s exterior.
The act of vandalism occurred early enough that butter sculptor Sarah Pratt, who was informed early Sunday morning, was able to touch up the cow by the time the exhibit opened at 9.a.m., the fair’s marketing director Lori Chappell told the Register. Chappell added: “We didn’t miss a beat.”
Does attacking popular traditions really persuade anyone in the long run? It’s unclear, but Iowa Animal Rescue League director Tom Colvin told the Register, “Quite frankly, it’s situations like this — attacking beloved Iowa traditions like the butter cow — are not going to get the general public on your side. They have a reverse effect.”