The pandemic has met its match — and it's made out of butter.

Although the Minnesota State Fair has been canceled this year, even COVID-19 can't stop the annual summer rite of butter sculpting. Starting Aug. 13, the day after the crowning of the 67th Princess Kay of the Milky Way, the state's newest royalty and her court will have their likenesses carved in butter.

The carving will take place in its usual location, a refrigerated booth in the fair's Dairy Building. While the event typically draws deep crowds of art lovers (not to mention butter buffs), this year's proceedings are closed to the public. But you still can watch: Updates will be streamed on the Princess Kay Facebook page through Aug. 22, when the last of the sculptures of the princess and her nine attendants will be completed.

Another change this year is that Linda Christensen, the Michelangelo of butter, will sit out the event for the first time since she started carving the sculptures at the fair in 1972.

A Minnesota native and longtime resident, the 78-year-old artist now lives in California and will not return this year. (She has vowed to be back next year.)

In her stead, the sculpting knife will be wielded by Gerry Kulzer, an artist and teacher from Litchfield, Minn. He knows his way around a 90-pound block of butter, having served as Christensen's apprentice during the past two fairs.

While Kulzer won't have to face the pressure of working in front of a throng of fairgoers, he'll still have a demanding audience. Christensen is going to be looking over his shoulder via a remote connection. □