The buttery, life-size figures of Cavs mascots Moondog and Sir CC were unveiled Tuesday, along with a butter replica of the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and accompanying cows, longtime butter-sculpture staples at the fair.
As soon as American Dairy Association Mideast president and CEO Scott Higgins heard the Game 7 buzzer June 19, as the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors to win the championship, he knew there would be a change of plans for this year’s Ohio State Fair.
“Ohio dairy farmers are proud of what the Cleveland Cavaliers accomplished and, as a result of that, we wanted to honor them in butter,” he said. “Our hope is that consumers will come, enjoy the Dairy Products Building, get some ice cream, take a picture or selfie, and carry that celebration long into the years.”
After discussing the new concept with sculptors and getting permission from the team, it was a done deal.
“We are so happy to be honored like this at the Ohio State Fair,” Cavaliers spokesman Tad Carper said in an email. “The sculpting work is incredible and something we never imagined was possible.”
The five sculptors had one month to plan and create the five-piece display, which required more than 500 hours of work and about 2,150 pounds of butter.
Lead sculptors Paul Brooke and Alex Balz went into overtime, putting in several 13-hours days, as they created the work on the sculptures’ wooden and steel frames.
“We didn’t have the kind of time to think about what we were building,” Brooke said. “So we kind of had to build them on the fly.”
Both agreed they’re happy with the final product, especially given the two mascots are the biggest butter sculptures they’ve tackled since first working with the fair in 2000.
Brooke and Balz, both from Cincinnati, came to Columbus with a smaller team of sculptors than in previous years and were surprised that the championship trophy had been added to the butter lineup. Regardless, with odds against them, the team never gave up hope that they would finish the job, a drive that resonates in Cleveland.
“The motivation behind it from the creators was to reflect optimism,” Carper said. “Certainly the optimism, belief and support we have received from our fans across the state made a huge difference during our championship journey and especially during the finals.”
Even longtime Boston Celtics fan John Lynch, of Clintonville, couldn’t help but compliment this year’s sculptures at the unveiling Tuesday. Lynch said the pieces were as well made as last year’s homage to the Ohio State University football team’s national championship win.
“It’s impressive,” he said. “As an NBA fan, it’s awesome.”
Butter for the sculptures, displayed in a large 46-degree cooler, was donated in part by the Dairy Farmers of America. Only expired butter is used.