Of all the attractions at the Iowa State Fair, perhaps nothing is more recognizable than the butter cow.
"It's just one thing you have to do while you're here,” said Alexander Reyes, a fairgoer.
People wait in long lines year after to pose for pictures with the century old icon.
For a group of animal rights activists, it was an obvious target.
"This was one way for them to get the message out there,” said Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a Spokesperson for the Animal Liberation Front.
Dr. Vlasak says he doesn't know who is responsible for dousing the butter cow in red paint, but says he supports their actions.
"The statement was there are people who see things differently. There is no need to consume the animal flesh or the milk from animals,” Dr. Vlasak told Channel 13 News.
Many Iowans see things differently than those who vandalized the butter cow.
"For somebody to damage the butter cow for a reason like that is ridiculous,” said Jan Hamlin, a fairgoer.
The state fair is cashing in on the overwhelming support for the butter cow.
"I bought one for all my family members. I bought three of them today so we can have the whole team as security,” said Ron Moulds, a fairgoer.
The Blue Ribbon Foundation, which raises money to maintain the fairgrounds created yellow “Butter Cow Security” tee shirts.
They sold as quickly as they arrived, becoming the state fair's most popular souvenir.
The tee shirts proved so popular, the foundation plans to keep selling them online even after the fair is over.
"We wanted to help promote the butter cow,” Moulds told Channel 13 News.
So who is the winner when it comes to the 2013 Iowa State Fair's most memorable act?
"I'll take the hundreds of thousands of people being exposed to the message,” said Dr. Vlasak.
The irony of it is, attacking the butter cow made the icon more popular than ever.
Thousands have spent their money pledging to be a part of the security team.
The fair foundation says it's sold 3,000 tee shirts so far with thousands more ordered.
If you want to get one online, click here.