Last week at the Iowa State Fair, the iconic Butter Cow was temporarily defaced by an animal activist group with a taped-on “go vegan” sign that fell off after a couple of hours. And on her 100th anniversary no less! “The butter cow represents humankind's tyranny over defenseless animals” says an e-mail from the activist group to the Des Moines Register.

This year the fair celebrates 100 years of the butter cow, butter sculpting, the dairy industry and ag in general. The Butter Cow, now sculpted by Sarah Pratt, consists of 600 pounds of low-moisture, pure cream Iowa butter (see 100 Butter Cow facts here).

I spent part of high school, all of college and my second job out of college in and around Des Moines and Ames, so I have been particularly attached to the Iowa State Fair. I even rode my horse through downtown in the Iowa State Fair parade a few times. It’s a classic state fair and showcases some of the best livestock in the country.

Fortunately most Iowans will shrug off this juvenile act of vandalism (and the cow was not damaged), but what bothers me is that the more serious nature of scaling a wall and breaking into a building doesn’t seem to phase the Fair’s leadership.  A Fair spokeswoman says it was a minor incident because it happened so early in the morning. What I think is disturbing about that statement is if security is so lax that activists are scaling walls and breaking into a building, then how secure are the rest of the grounds such as where the real, non-butter animals are housed?

I just posted an article last week called “If you see something, say something” that spoke about ag and farm security.

I hope the Iowa State Fair and all other fairs take an active look at the security not just of their whimsical butter cows and other attractions, but of the livestock and other animals that are housed at those venues and deserve to be protected – and enjoyed – by their owners and fairgoers alike.

Long live the Butter Cow!