Norma Lyon’s Butter Sculptures of Cows, John Wayne, Last Supper

he Iowa State Fair’s “butter cow lady” just passed away at 81. See photos of her famous sculptures.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Norma Lyon’s Butter Sculptures

The Iowa State Fair’s “butter cow lady,” Norma Lyon, just passed away at the age of 81. See photos of her famous butter sculptures, from The Last Supper to John Wayne.

Layne Kennedy / Corbis

Norma Lyon

Norma Lyon, the Iowa State Fair’s “butter cow lady,” died June 27 at the age of 81. She sculpted life-size statues out of butter from 1960 until she retired in 2006.  The tradition of the “butter cow” has been a major part of the Iowa State Fair since the early 1900s. When the job of sculptor opened up, she reportedly said, “If I can’t make a better one, I’ll eat it.” Here Lyon stands next to her butter statue of Iowa native John Wayne—the actor, not the serial killer.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Harley-Davidson

In 2003, Lyon made this butter Harley-Davidson V-Rod motorcycle to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Harley-Davidson.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Howard Dean

Howard Dean admires Lyon’s butter cow at the fair in 2003. Lyon decided she should take over making the butter cows in 1959, when she saw a butter cow that was not to her liking. Years later, she said, “It was a good farm cow, but it wasn’t a show cow.”

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Butter Cow

Lyon stands with one of her butter cows. Lyon made a full-size butter cow every year. Each cow was made of so much butter that it could have been used to butter 19,200 pieces of toast.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Tiger Woods

In 2005, Lyon made a butter statue of golfer Tiger Woods.

Layne Kennedy / Corbis

The Last Supper

In 1999, Lyon famously re-created The Last Supper entirely in butter. According to her daughter, Lyon’s friends discouraged her from taking on the ambitious project. She said, “Her friends in town said, ‘Norma, don’t—it’s too much.’ But my mom, when she wanted to do something, there was no stopping her.”

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

With Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer, who ran for president in the 2000 election, visited the State Fair and met with Lyon in front of her sculpture of The Last Supper.