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TULARE — A Hanford Sentinel reporter has won second place honors in the historical inaugural media butter sculpting contest at the 99th annual Tulare County Fair in what many are calling the greatest competitive event of all time.

OK, maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was fun nonetheless.

The Tulare County Fair sent out invites last week for members of the media to take place in a butter-sculpting contest on the opening day of the fair.

I’m usually too shy to participate in anything that other people might see, but it also seemed fun and it was to raise awareness for the following day’s official butter sculpting contests for ages 12 and under and 13 and over, the winners of which would win prizes, so I signed up.

Aside from myself, the other would-be artists included Mike Pesto of the New My 97.5FM, Randy Hendrix from Hitz 104.9 FM, Chad from KJUG and the person who won the nicest county fair ribbon of the day — April Skye of 99.7 FM Classic Rock.

We were given 15 minutes and I went to work on my potential masterpiece, inspired by the Lakers’ new star player, LeBron.

I sculpted LeButter James.

But, like many of LeBron’s real-life finals appearances, LeButter James and I came in second place.  

Skye’s thinking was outside the box and she collected sticks and rocks to create a butter snowman. A summertime Frosty the Snowman, complete with the impending threat of melting in the 80-something-degree heat.

The heat may have been my LeButter James’ biggest flaw. His legs gave out when he started melting. The scene was nearly a recreation of LeBron’s leg cramps in Game 1 of the 2014 Finals vs. The Spurs.

Our competition (and its surprising amount of spectators — all of whom referred to LeButter James as “Gumby”) was set up in front of the Fair’s display of actual works of art — Marie Pelton and Jim Victor’s sculptures of farmers and dairy cows, which have been on display at the fair for the past five years.

The couple’s food-based sculptures can be seen at fairs and events all over America.

Pelton, who served as our judge, said that creating a full-size cow out of butter (the cow’s name is Buttercup, of course), takes her about five days and nearly 500 pounds of butter.

Buttercup is on display throughout the weekend at the fair.

I’ve been to the Tulare County Fair every year for the last three or four years and it’s always a fun time and there are always fun things off the beaten path to find.

A highlight this year was Bubba Bear and the Badland Band. Maybe it was growing up in during the heyday of Chuck E. Cheese and Showbiz Pizza, but I’m a sucker for animatronic animal bands and I spent more time than I care to admit watching the cowboy foxes, raccoons and bears perform country music for the children in the audience.

As for more grown-up entertainment, Queen Nation is scheduled to perform all the hits of rock legends, Queen tonight and ‘90s rockers Smash Mouth will perform hits like “Walking on the Sun” and “All Star” Sunday night.

Hypnotist Steve Bayner is performing throughout the weekend, as are percussive dancers Powerhouse, who combine clogging, stomp, tap and other types of dance for a very fun show. The fair also features the Canine Stars, a group of dog stuntmen (and their trainers) who perform lots of tricks I couldn’t even do. There’s also the Ramos Brothers Circus, Walk on the Wild Side, puppet shows, petting zoo and lots more.

A corn dog-eating contest is scheduled for today at 5 p.m. A pie-eating contest is planned for 5 p.m. Sunday, a children’s talent show is scheduled at 3 p.m. that day, as well.

Tonight, the fair and T.C.A.D.D.D. present the 20th annual Car Demolition Derby, which is always one of the most popular events of the weekend.

The fair runs from 11 a.m. to midnight today and tomorrow. Visit for more information, admission costs and exact times of entertainment programs. The Tulare County Fairgrounds are located at 620 S. K Street, Tulare.

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Parker Bowman is a staff reporter for the Hanford Sentinel, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ Parker_THS or send an email to

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