Re: Audience show and tell

MSU grad, butter bust appear on Letterman

MANKATO -- It had been four years since Betty Holdvogt had her
likeness carved in butter.

It was old news at this point. Surely it wouldn't attract the
attention of David Letterman's production team.

Still, standing in line to watch a taping of the "Late Show" over New
Year?s a couple of months ago, she was handed a questionnaire to fill
out for the "Show and Tell" segment when Letterman talks to the
audience. Clearly, of all the interesting things about her, the fact
the Minnesota State University graduate was immortalized in a 50-pound
slab of butter would stand out the most.

It did. Holdvogt, 22, who grew up on a dairy farm near Melrose in
central Minnesota, was contacted by the show that night, but not for
her to appear that week while she was in New York. Her story was so
quirky - or so it seemed to big-city talk show producers - they
decided to save the segment for last week during February sweeps, a
competitive ratings period for networks and cable stations.

Lucky for the show, Holdvogt still had her butter head, tucked away in
her parents' freezer.

Just as Holdvogt's two sisters had been before her, Holdvogt was named
the Stearns County Dairy Princess and went on to become one of 12
finalists out of 80 or 90 princesses for the 2003 Princess Kay of the
Milky Way competition sponsored by the Midwest Dairy Association.

As a finalist, she sat for seven hours while veteran butter sculptor
Linda Christensen carved out Holdvogt's likeness from a 90-pound block
of butter. Holdvogt didn?t win the title, but she got to take home her
butter head.

"I think it did look like me," she said.

Originally the plan was for Holdvogt to show pictures of the bust on
the show. But when they learned she still had the sculpture, the show
bought Holdvogt two plane tickets to fly to New York - one seat for
her and one for her butter head.

"I had to drag this massive cooler through the airport," she said. "It
was funny."

Her segment on the show was pretty funny, too. For a little
background, the audience learned "Holdvogt" is German for "good land
owner" and that she's a human resources intern at SPX Corp. in
Owatonna, an automotive tool-making company.

"Oh, the SPX Corp. They make ... sunscreen?" Letterman joked,
mistaking SPX with SPF.

Letterman was so impressed by Holdvogt's Dairy Princess title he led
the audience in a standing ovation. And the news that she became a
finalist for Princess Kay of the Milky Way resulted in a second
standing ovation.

Letterman's production assistant, Biff, wheeled out Holdvogt's butter
head of Oleo, which was almost completely intact.

"I've actually used a little bit of it," she said. "It was a sweet
corn feed."

Just small chunks were missing from the shoulders. After four years of
pancakes and loaves of bread that have come through the Holdvogt
household, that shows quite a bit of restraint.

Holdvogt plans to keep the sculpture intact for a while. Eventually,
she said, she'll probably cut it up and give pieces to friends and

Incidentally, Letterman made no mention that he, too, had once been
carved out of butter by Christensen, albeit from a photograph, said
Sherry Newell, industry relations and communications manager of the
Midwest Dairy Association. To celebrate Letterman changing networks
from NBC to CBS in 1993, he commissioned Christensen to sculpt him in

Who knows whatever became of Letterman's butter head. But chances are,
there probably wasn?t a corn feed involved.