The 21st Show

Making A Butter Cow; History of State Fair Politics; George Will On Conservatism And Illinois; Using Business Apps At Home

Visitors view the Illinois State Fair Butter Cow designed by Sarah Pratt after the Twilight Parade at the Illinois State Fair Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in Springfield, Ill.

Visitors view the Illinois State Fair Butter Cow designed by Sarah Pratt after the Twilight Parade at the Illinois State Fair Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, in Springfield, Ill. Seth Perlman/AP

If you go to the Illinois State Fair every year, there's no way you've missed the butter cow. Today we'll talk to its sculptor about how it's created. And speaking of the state fair, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is showing up there next week, but she's not the first politician to make an appearance. Plus, George Will is a conservative writer who’s been in the national spotlight for decades. He’s also a native of Champaign. We’ll talk with him about Illinois politics and his latest book, The Conservative Sensibility. Also, do you use an app like Slack or Trello in your office? It turns out some families have co-opted office apps to help them organize things in their personal lives too.

The Illinois State Fair is upon us. The festivities begin today and go all the way until next Sunday, August 18.

There’s always a lot going on at the fair in Springfield. When you look at the schedule, there are themes for every day — Ag Day, kids day, even First Responder day.

There are also two days dedicated to politics. That’s Governor’s Day and the other party day — for the next four years, the party out of power rallies on Republican Day.

Politics has long been part of the state fair. And this time the parties are bringing in some pretty well known national politicians, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 

Rick Pearson was on the line to tell us about the role of politics in the state fair. He’s a political reporter with the Chicago Tribune and host of the Sunday Spin on WGN Radio.

While politics always plays an important role in the festivities, we also wanted to talk about a different kind of state fair tradition: a sculpture of a cow, weighing more than 600 pounds, made entirely of butter.

It was unveiled yesterday on the fairgrounds by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Sarah Pratt is the artist behind Illinois’ butter cow. She also sculpts butter cows for state fairs in multiple states, including Iowa and Kansas.


With his Washington Post column, George Will has been a familiar conservative voice to many readers for more than 40 years. He’s also a regular political commentator on TV. But in 2016, the Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator announced he was leaving the Republican Party.

Will joined us to talk about his views on conservatism today, which he writes about in his most recent book, The Conservative Sensibility. And, because he's a native of Illinois who grew up in Champaign, we wanted to talk about Illinois politics, too.


For those of us whose jobs require juggling an endless stream of new assignments, the last decade has brought the promise of digital relief: we manage tasks in apps like Trello, Asana, Jira and Todoist; edit documents together in Google Docs; and communicate over Slack and… the list goes on and on.

But today we were wondering if you’ve taken one of these office apps home with you to take care of family business. Maybe you’ve created your own Slack channels to coordinate a move — or used a Trello board to plan a wedding.

It turns out, some people are using apps designed for business to manage their home life. This type of unpaid administrative work is something Elizabeth Emens writes about in her book “Life Admin.” She’s a law professor at Columbia.

Stella Garber is head of marketing for the project-management tool Trello. Andrea Cordts is a Niles resident who uses Trello to organize her young family.

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