If you'd carved larger-than-life-sized busts of dairy princesses from a 90-pound block of butter while rotating in refrigerated glass booth at the Minnesota State Fairs for 50 years, you'd have a lot of stories to tell.

Linda Christensen, who recently stepped down after a half-century of creating butterheads of the Dairy Princesses for the Minnesota Dairy Princess Program, often said she could write a book about the weird and wonderful experiences she's had as a butter sculptor.

Now she has.

Her recently published "Princess Kay & Me" is a memoir of her unique career as an artist, full of affection for the State Fair, the dairy princesses and the state dairy community. Here are some of sweet, creamery facts we learned about the life of a butter sculptor:

A summer gig

Christensen became the fair's "official artist-in-butter" in 1972 after a Minneapolis College of Art and Design placement officer told her the job was available. She figured it would be a fun way to earn money in the summer after graduation until she figured out what she wanted to do with her bachelor of fine arts degree.

Receiving and giving

When she enrolled at MCAD at 26, she was the first married woman with children to enter the college. After her first semester, she ran out of money but was able to stay on thanks to a scholarship from Bruce Dayton, the father of former Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton. "I never met him, but to this my day my gratitude is endless," Christensen wrote. Years later, the Dairy Farmers of Minnesota created a scholarship in her name at MCAD.

From Big Bird to Bunyan

Over the years, Christensen has carved a lot more than dairy princesses. She's also been commissioned to sculpt a butter Big Bird for the Children's Television Network, a butter bust of David Letterman,, busts of two Seattle mayoral candidates, a butter cat for an International Cat Video Festival, a butter Paul Bunyan and a butter Mary Pawlenty, wife of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Butter is better

Christensen has gotten jobs making sculptures out of other foods, too: Conan O'Brien out of white chocolate, Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton in margarine and a merry-go-round out of cheddar cheese. But she likes butter as a medium because "the smooth translucence of the surface is like no other."

She prefers salted vs. unsalted butter. A knife goes through salted butter easier, she said. Besides, it tastes better.

The butter end

After the fair is over, the busts are typically lovingly preserved in a family freezer by the dairy queen participants. But some butterheads have made television appearances, been used at corn feeds, eaten at 4-H pancake breakfasts or slowly used up over the years to make lefse or Christmas cookies.

Travels with David

The David Letterman butterhead went on a carriage ride in New York's Central Park, took a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty and was served on French bread outside the Ed Sullivan Theater. The remains were pictured in the New York Times melting in the gutter.

Tool up

Christensen used a handful of tools to sculpt butter, include a clay-cutting wire, a paring knife, stiff wire hoops on sticks originally made to shape clay, wood paddles and the warmth of her own hands for a final smooth-down. For more than 30 years, she also used a wood-handled butcher knife she called "Old Faithful," which she passed on to her replacement, Gerry Kulzer.

Not made for TV

TV show producers once flew Christensen to Hollywood in the hopes of developing a reality show about butter sculpting. They were disappointed when she told them that dairy princesses aren't nasty to each other and there's no such thing as cutthroat butter sculpture competitions. It was no-go for the show.

On the side

Being the State Fair butter sculptor is not a full-time living. During her 50-year run at the fair, Christensen also worked as an art teacher, a calligrapher and a medical illustrator. She designed a line of greeting cards and owned a gift shop and sculpture studio. She's been a waiter, a Costco sample lady and sold plants, succulents and cacti at farmers markets.

Hello, politicos

Over the years, Hubert Humphrey, Paul Wellstone, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith have been been among the politicians to stop by the butter sculpting booth in the Dairy Building. At her last fair as a butter sculptor in 2021, Gov. Tim Walz showed up to proclaim that Christensen's final day of sculpting — Aug. 27 — was "Linda Christensen Day" in the state of Minnesota.