Sculpture project on the moo-ve

Norma “Duffy” Lyon’s cow-calf sculpture was removed from its perch along Highway 63 in Toledo earlier this winter. Pictured are Toledo Public Works Superintendent Kendall Jordan (left) and Toledo Public Works employee Sean McFate (right) loading up the cow for winter storage. Darvin Graham/News Chronicle

The Iowa American Dairy Association of the Midwest has provided a $10,000 donation to help replace the iconic cow-calf sculpture created by Iowa legend, the late Norma “Duffy” Lyon.

Lyon began sculpting butter cows for the Iowa State Fair in 1960 and continued this annually for almost 46 years. Her work has been instrumental in the promotion of Iowa’s rich dairy farming roots.

Over 30 years ago, a community effort lead by the Arts Council of the Tama-Toledo area and several citizens, raised $20,000 to have a cow and calf sculpture made and placed at the intersection of Highways 63 and 30. 

Lyon created this sculpture using fiberglass and bronze sculpture.

During the derecho storm in August, this sculpture was severely damaged beyond repair. Fundraising efforts are taking place to create a new bronze replica that will last generations and will be a great asset to the community. A quote from the late Nelle Bennett says it best, “It’s really a blend of the history to the state fair, art and agriculture.”

The original sculpture was removed from it’s place along Highway 63 in Toledo earlier this winter to ensure no further damage or deterioration could occur before the new mold and cast process could begin.

A contract is being finalized with Max-Cast in Kalona to produce a mold of the original sculpture, with work anticipated to begin as early as April. Max-Cast has produced a number of prominent molds in Iowa including the Hayden Fry statue in Coralville.

The replica cow-calf sculpture could be finished and reinstalled as early as December 2021.

Fundraising efforts have been underway since last fall to help locate financing for the creation of the new mold as well as installation of the sculpture back in Toledo.

The Iowa American Dairy Association is one among a group of nearly 30 donors to contribute to the project including the State Bank of Toledo, the City of Toledo and the Lyon Family among many others.

“We are happy that the statue gets to be at home in our town, and hope that it will bring visitors to our Toledo-Tama area,” Eric Lyon said.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please reach out to Toledo’s Mayor, Brian Sokol, at 641-485-0908 or bsokol@toledoiowa.gov.