Burlington Cow Parade

by Gray Cargill on July 16, 2010

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

Burlington City Arts Cow

There used to be a saying that there were more cows than people in Vermont.  I’m not sure that’s true any more; but we still do have quite a lot of cows.  Even more this summer, as Burlington is hosting its own unofficial version of a cow parade.  In case you’re unaware of this phenomenon, the Cow Parade is a public art event hosted in various cities featuring life-sized fiberglass cows that have been painted by local artists. The artists use them as a unique canvas.  Often, the artwork reflects something about the culture in the region in which they’re being exhibited.  (As is noted in the comments below, Burlington’s event is not a sanctioned event by the official Cow Parade organization.)

I saw the Cow Parade several years ago in Las Vegas, where there were cows painted to look like a magician, and Elvis, and even a Las Vegas showgirl (that was hilarious!).  Vermont’s cows look understandably different.  They’ve been on display for the past month or so around downtown Burlington, and will remain on display until they’re auctioned off in October.  I’d say you had until then to come see them in person, but you might want to come sooner rather than later, since 6 of the cows so far have been vandalized.  Shameful, I know. The lack of respect for public works of art is a black eye on this city.

Here are a few shots I took of the cow art.  Pretty creative stuff.

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

Edu-Cow (this is a college town)

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

The Leunigs Waiter Cow (see his broken left foreleg? Vandals.)

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

The Cabot Cheese Cow, decked out in Vermont plaid

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

Thunder Cow, named after the local racetrack, Thunder Road

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

Sugarbush Cow, highlighting outdoor sports in Vermont

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

I like to call this one Veggie Cow

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

This cow has a cityscape of Burlington overlooking Lake Champlain

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

One of my favorites, the Airport Cow!

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

The other side of the Airport Cow

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

My favorite: Winter Landscape Cow (ironic, since I hate winter!)

Cows on Parade in Burlington, VT

Close up of the Winter Landscape Cow

Gardendolls November 4, 2010 at 5:26 pm

No matter the affiliation, the cows are GREAT art and should be appreciated as such. Why to we all need to be part of the group, who says we can’t all create Van Gogh’s sunflowers and hang them in our home? Let’s love art and make art for arts sake and bring joy to those who look upon it!

SoloFriendly November 4, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Well, I think we might get in trouble for forgery if we recreated Van Gogh’s sunflowers, but your point is well taken. The cows are beautiful works of art, whether or not they’re part of the official cow parade.

SoloFriendly July 21, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Jerry, thanks so much for clarifying. I'm a little surprised that the official CowParade allows copycat events like this. I'm glad to hear that the official version doesn't allows sponsors on the cows, as that was the one aspect of BTV's exhibit that felt rather commercial to me (not to mention the glaring promotion of a political candidate on one of the cows). I will edit the article accordingly. Thanks again!

Jerry Elbaum July 21, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I must advise you that this event is not a “CowParade” event. It is a bit of a copycat exhibit. CowParade is the world's largest and most highly regarded public art event. There have been over 74 genuine CowParade exhibts in more than 30 countries with 5000 plus of the CowParade cow canvases painted on and transformed by as many artists. Unlike the event in Burlington, CowParade does not permit sponsors to put their logos on the cows, and CowParade has a multi-stepped program for the vetting of the artists and their proposed art. The 75th CowParade currently is open in Bordeaux, France. In 2011, CowParade exhibits will appear in three major American cities (southwest, southeast and northeast) and Shanghai, China.

SoloFriendly July 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Ooooh, I would have LOVED to see the Peanuts characters around the city! How fun.

SoloFriendly July 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm

It's a nice change of pace, that's for sure.

joanna_haugen July 20, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Love it!! These are always so much fun. When I was living in the Midwest, Minneapolis had characters from Peanuts spread across the city.

I think I like the outdoors sports cow the best.

Sabina Lohr July 17, 2010 at 11:49 pm

This looks like quite the cool event! Who doesn't want colorful cattle decorating their sidewalks?

SoloFriendly July 16, 2010 at 11:10 pm

I know, it just goes to show you, you can use pretty much anything as a canvas for art. Think about the artists who paint people's bodies.

SoloFriendly July 16, 2010 at 11:10 pm

According to their website, Chicago, in 1999. http://cowparade.com/inc/aboutus.php

Sally Kay July 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Do you know what city these painted cows originated in? Many years ago I thought they started in Kansas City, where I first saw them but I've seen them all over Europe, and South America too. I guess the world loves cows, but where did it all start?

Melissa Stanford July 16, 2010 at 11:09 am

It's interesting to see the cows painted up with local scenes of cultural importance. Expecially loved the Cabot cheese one. Who would have guessed fibreglass cows as artwork? Totally unique.

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