About the Colony

Cow Parade in SLO County kicks off in mid-September

Atascadero’s cow, sponsored by the city of Atascadero and county supervisor Debbie Arnold, is being designed by artist Susan F. Schafer, a zoologist who worked for the San Diego Zoo and the Taronga Zoo in Australia. She did her thesis work at the Galapagos Islands studying giant tortoises — which explains why the cow is painted to resemble a larger turtle.
Atascadero’s cow, sponsored by the city of Atascadero and county supervisor Debbie Arnold, is being designed by artist Susan F. Schafer, a zoologist who worked for the San Diego Zoo and the Taronga Zoo in Australia. She did her thesis work at the Galapagos Islands studying giant tortoises — which explains why the cow is painted to resemble a larger turtle.

In the year 2000, I visited New York City. An attack on the World Trade Center towers was still a year away. My late wife and I took in the normal attractions found in this great city, from a Broadway musical to lunch at what is normally the ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza.

We also encountered a number of life-size plastic cows throughout the city. There was a bright blue one in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one curled up on a couch watching TV, aptly dubbed “Cow-ouch Potato.”

Similar bovines are headed to San Luis Obispo County. The “101-Cow Roundup” will kick off with a formal display in a Madonna Inn pasture from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 17.

So far, the group behind this stampede has 98 fiberglass cows spoken for.

In fact, there is one right here in Atascadero. The artist behind it is Susan F. Schafer, a zoologist who has worked for the San Diego Zoo and the Taronga Zoo in Australia. She did thesis work at the Galapagos Islands studying giant tortoises, which explains why Schafer’s entry in the Cow Parade will be painted to resemble a large turtle. The Schafer cow is jointly sponsored by the city of Atascadero and county Supervisor Debbie Arnold.

After the Sept. 16 reveal at the Madonna venue, you’ll encounter these cows as public art throughout San Luis Obispo County.

It costs $7,000 to sponsor a cow. The cow itself costs $3,500. The artist gets $1,000 for his or her work and $2,500 goes to installation, hauling and marketing. In the past, Cow Parade pieces have been auctioned for $5,000, all the way up to a record $150,000.

Sponsors include individuals, businesses and organizations.

The entire herd will be rounded up and driven to a charity auction in May 2017.

Proceeds from the auction will benefit The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, ARTS Obispo and the California Mid-State Fair Heritage Foundation, as well as designated recipients by the individual cow sponsors.

I tried to get the city of Atascadero to do something like this when I came home from my visit to New York City 16 years ago. I didn’t want to be a copycat, so I suggested we display six-foot tall plastic chickens sponsored by, say, Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, AAUW and even chicken-haters. City officials missed a great opportunity.

For more information, go to www.cowparadeslo.com.

Nipomo resident Leigh Rubin, whose syndicated cartoon “Rubes” appears in more than 400 newspapers daily, is a featured artist for CowParade SLO County. His Adventure Cow, sponsored by Visit SLO County and modeled after his cartoon bovines, will pa

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. His column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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