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Linda Christensen

Linda Christensen is believed to be the only butter carver in the United States who works with live models. She is known for carving the likeness of Princess Kay of the Milky Way along with the 11 Princess Kay finalists out of 90-pound blocks of butter at the annual Minnesota State Fair. Each year, her work draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Dairy Building, where the Midwest Dairy Association sponsors the butter carving in front of fair goers. The newly crowned Princess Kay and 11 finalists each spend about six hours with Christensen in the rotating 40-degree butter booth, as Christensen carves their likenesses out of butter. Princess Kay sits in the booth on the first day of the fair while the 11 finalists get their likenesses carved over the remaining days of the state fair.Christensen carves these sculptures out of Grade A salted butter provided by AMPI (Associated Milk Producers Inc.), in New Ulm, Minnesota. In 2011, she celebrated 40 years working with Midwest Dairy Association as a butter sculptor. Estimations show that she has carved more than 450 sculptures and 32,000 pounds of butter. Since she has started, the butter sculptures have gone from an oddity to something identified with Minnesota. Butter sculpting at the State Fair was originally initiated to highlight Minnesota’s claim as the “butter capital of the nation.” In addition to Princess Kay and the finalists, Christensen has sculpted the likenesses of celebrities from David Letterman to former Minnesota First Lady Mary Pawlenty. She even sculpted Conan O’Brien out of white chocolate and used bacon for the hair. One of her commissions was to carve Sesame Street character Big Bird out of a 300-pound block of butter. National Geographic has twice featured her work, and she has turned down requests from Oprah Winfrey and Johnny Carson, who wanted her to rush her carvings in one hour.

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