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Illinois Budget Crisis Reveals Cost Of State Fair Butter Sculptures

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The state of Illinois has gone without a comprehensive budget for six months, and that's put pressure on all sorts of programs and departments the state spends money on, big and small.

COURTNEY CROWDER: Schools aren't being paid for. Roads aren't being paid for. But one fallout from that is that the Illinois State Fair butter sculptor has yet to be paid for her work.

CORNISH: That's Courtney Crowder. She's a reporter for The Des Moines Register, and she says Illinois still owes sculptor Sharon BuMann $2,500 for her butter cow. Now, not every state government has a line item for a butter cow. Sometimes it's paid for by local dairy associations. But Crowder found that people will pay good money for a butter sculpture in other states like Iowa and Minnesota, like, more than $10,000.

CROWDER: When you look at Iowa, the cow is very, very detailed. It's always a different breed. And in Minnesota, the artist actually live-sculpts the butter. And she sculpts one one of them every day - so 12 live butter sculptures during the Minnesota State Fair.

CORNISH: Then there's Missouri. Crowder says they pay just $2,000. Wisconsin, on the other hand, avoids the butter issue altogether. Their preferred medium is cheddar. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.