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Cow Parade Fun in Houston, Texas: It was Moovelous!

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Cowdy Y’all created by Pershing Middle School

Cowdy Y’all created by Pershing Middle School

Yippee Cow Yea! The Cows are Here!

This headline ad was in the Houston Chronicle for the "Moovelous" Cow Parade Houston, Texas 2001 exhibit that was on display all over the metropolitan area from September 6th to November 7th.

It was a fundraising event that was the largest ever at that time, benefiting Texas Children's Hospital. The goal was to raise $3.2 million for the hospital. Before the cows were on display, over half of that goal had been met.

Counting Cows

How many cows were individually hand-painted and put on display for this Houston CowParade? Three hundred and twenty-five is the answer

Just imagine the work and coordination that it took to organize an event like this one!

Bovine Placements

The scope of this fundraiser was humongous and the cows, once painted, were displayed in and outside of buildings all over the Houston area.

  • Some were in grocery stores.
  • Cows were on the grounds of our two major airports.
  • Bovines could be found in downtown parks.
  • One was in a car dealership showroom.
  • Another was in a jewelry store!
  • Several were on the grounds as well as inside hospitals.

Parks to parking lots...these colorful artistic expressions were around every nook and cranny of this city. From downtown to uptown to surrounding areas just outside of town, these colorfully painted cows drew crowds of people viewing them and photographing them.

Friendly Exchanges

Cow mania had taken over the city! It created a reason to travel around the city and mark off the cows one had been able to see. The Houston Chronicle newspaper provided an official map and guide as to each cow's whereabouts.

Both Houstonians, as well as tourists that had come to our city during this event, were entertained by these wildly colorful expressions of bovine artistry.

Parents held their children on the cow's backs for photographic memories of this event. Smiling faces were seen and laughter was heard everywhere as people gathered around yet another cow.

Exchanges of information were often shared between cow aficionados. "Have you seen this cow yet? Be sure and go to this location!" Suddenly the people in our very friendly city had gotten even more friendly.


To accomplish this type of a massive fundraiser not only was long-range planning needed but sponsors had to be secured to help pay for all the expenses that would be incurred. The volunteers worked for two years in accomplishing this feat.

All of these plain white fiberglass cows were rustled into town and the sponsorships per cow ranged from $7,500 to $100,000. Sponsors ranged from all different types of business owners to school art clubs to individuals.

Artists had to be found to paint and decorate each cow and then they had to be delivered to a myriad of places for the 10-day show.

At the end of the show, there was a live auction of 60 of these cows that took place at the Cullen Theater at Wortham Theater Center. conducted an online auction of many of the other cows.

Merchandise sales of miniature copies of selected cows and all types of other CowParade souvenirs (like calendars) were displayed at various locations all around town. This all contributed to the final amount of money raised for this excellent cause.


One artist that we knew who received one of those unadorned white cows was happy to pay for the privilege of painting it.

Most of the artists worked in their homes and studios but some that did not have the room were given an opportunity to use some empty store space in Uptown Park. All summer long one could look through the windows and see these creations being made. As one would be finished, another would take its place.

Each artist put their own stamp of originality onto these plain white molded bovines. In some cases, the cows were dismembered to create a new form.

Naming of the Cows

Titles of many of the cows pretty much described their appearance. Let your imagination fill in the colors and style of these:

  • The Gumball Machine
  • Ice Cream Lover
  • IC Polo Cow
  • Holsteen Cowlajuwan
  • Deli-cow-tessen
  • Moogritte
  • Mooseum District Cow
  • Cowgirl
  • Cowboy
  • Houston Chronicow
  • Cowculus
  • City Cow
  • Country Moosic Star
  • Gulf of Mooxico
  • Elvis Cowsley in Grazeland
  • Metallicow,
  • Exploring the Mooniverse
  • Moo-iro
  • Moo-riachi, and on and on it goes.

The names were clever and when looking at each creation one could easily see what had inspired the artist.

While this is just a small sample of the photos that I took that year, you now have some idea of the fun we had while joining others and rediscovering our city while in this MOOving fundraiser mode.

Many other cities have had similar fundraisers using different models. We know of pelicans, benches, Charlie Brown and Snoopy characters. Do you know of others?

Suffice it to say, we along with thousands of other people had fun following the guide and discovering the innovatively painted and bedecked cows in all parts of our fair city.

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Cow Parade that took place in Houston, Texas. It was truly "Moovelous!"


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

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