People look at a butter sculpture at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas on Sunday, October 1, 2017. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

People look at a butter sculpture at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas on Sunday, October 1, 2017. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer

In these volatile times, when we hold grudges over political labels, old statues and what other people do during the national anthem, this year's butter sculpture at the State Fair of Texas is showing us how alike we really are.

Our common ground is confusion. Who the heck are the figures in "Mount Muchmore"?

The four enigmatic people carved into a half-ton of butter have sparked curiosity, frustration and conversation -- well, marital squabbling in some cases.

A Texas riff on the presidential faces on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, the butter sculpture by artist Ken Robison shows an astronaut wearing a space helmet, a man with a hard hat, a man with a fedora-like hat chewing on wheat and a man with a coonskin cap.

As it turns out, the faceless astronaut is the one figure whose identity is unassailable. Her name is etched on the helmet: Shannon Walker. She's a 52-year-old Houston native and NASA employee who's lived and worked in the International Space Station.

The other three are an unnamed construction worker or oil field worker, farmer and frontiersman -- "ordinary Texans that became extraordinary heroes," as Robison described it to Texas Monthly.

Fairgoers are seeing dead people.

"That one's Tom Landry," Kathy Kubitz said confidently, pointing at the man in a hat like the fedora worn by the famous Dallas Cowboys coach. 

Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry

Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry

DMN file photo/

Kubitz, who was at the fair Sunday with her husband and son, then turned her sights to the man in the coonskin cap. 

"That's Davy Crockett," she said.

Many assumed the cap was surely a nod to the Texas folk hero, who died in 1836 defending the Alamo.

But Kubitz was stumped by the figure next to the astronaut. 

"Possibly Martin Luther King, but that doesn't make any sense," she said. 

Adam Kubitz, her 31-year-old son, searched for answers on his phone and found none.

Kathy Kubitz returned her gaze to the fedora man. She maintained that he looked too much like Landry.

"Why would he have a wheat shaft coming out of his mouth?" said her husband, Doug Kubitz, whose trip to the fair had been uncomplicated up to that point -- Ferris wheel ride, fried Oreo and all.

I don't know either. #buttersculpture #sharethesft #bigtex

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For many fairgoers, the star of the show was a tiny dinosaur chasing a tiny man near the bottom of the sculpture, which was made to look like a rock formation at Big Bend National Park.

"Is that a velociraptor chasing a guy?" asked 25-year-old Emily Boyle as she walked up to the glass to get a better look.  "That is a velociraptor chasing a guy!"

Her friend Diane Hadden, 31, examined the man next to the astronaut.

"He looks like a construction or oil field worker, but he also reminds me of Martin Luther King," she said. "I know he's not Texan, but he looks like him."

A little dinosaur close to the bottom of a butter sculpture in the Creative Arts building at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas on Sunday, October 1, 2017. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

A little dinosaur close to the bottom of a butter sculpture in the Creative Arts building at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas on Sunday, October 1, 2017. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer

Melanie Brissette of Flower Mound, 43, also paused to study the faces with her friends and family. One of her friends said she felt like the fair was teasing them by withholding the identities of the butter people.

They wished out loud for something they could recognize.

"One year, they should probably do a pile of pancakes with butter on top," Brissette said, laughing.

Later, a Dallas couple celebrating their upcoming 37th wedding anniversary strolled by. Rudy Martinez read the small paper sign affixed to the glass.

"It says, 'ordinary people doing extraordinary things,'" he told his wife, Cecilia Martinez.

"That's Tom Landry," she said, referring to the man with the fedora-like hat.

"I don't think so," he said, casting the figure as a generic businessman.

"I do think so," she insisted.

They were both wrong, but they didn't mind. They said they liked the guessing game. 

When asked what they liked best about the sculpture, he brought up the velociraptor. 

She gave a coy smile.

"Tom Landry," she said. 

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