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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. Amazon.com 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


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 06, 2020:

Hi Amy,

While this exhibit was in the Houston metro area, it was fun to spend weekdays as well as weekend days exploring all the many places where these cows were exhibited. It makes for fun memories!

Amy on August 06, 2020:

Looks like a great way to spend weekend days. What creative fun.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 25, 2020:

Hi Denise,

These imaginative cows were so much fun to view. I can well imagine a collage-type of art that you might create if you had the chance to decorate a cow. It would be a beauty!

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 25, 2020:

What incredible fun. I would so love to get my hands on a cow. I especially appreciated the artist cows like Salvadore Cowli and Georgia O'Beef. Great fun. But the French Moodle made me chuckle out loud and the Texas Take Cowt. Funny! That was so imaginative.



Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 09, 2020:

Hi Patricia,

I would enjoy seeing your painted horses in Marion County every bit as much as seeing the painted cows when they were in abundance all around Houston. They make for many smiling faces!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 08, 2020:

Hi Peggy..what a great fundraiser. The moovelous cows are quite something. We have a number of painted horses in Marion County...they are a delite to see each time I pass. Take care and stay well and safe. Angels once again are headed to you..ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 01, 2020:

Hi Rajan,

The Cow Parade was indeed a fun way to raise funding for the Texas Children's Hospital. The artists must also have had a good time in coming up with various designs.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 01, 2020:

A wonderful initiative to raise funds for a worthy cause. Very attractively painted, dressed and presented cow models. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 29, 2020:

Hi Niks,

There are a few of these cows that are still in evidence, but most of them were sold off in this charity event. It was so much fun to spot them at the time of the Cow Parade.

Niks from India on June 28, 2020:

Wow! This is something out of the world concept. These Cow models are so unique and attractive. If I happen to visit Texas, I'll definitely visit this creative place. Thanks, Peggy for sharing such a nice article.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2020:

Hi Ruby,

This was one event that was so much fun to attend. It kept us entertained and on the hunt to see as many of the cows as we could.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 01, 2020:

This was a fun read, cleverly written. The cows were painted beautifully!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2020:

Hi Bill,

Viewing all of the many dressed up cows around our city was so much fun. Glad you enjoyed this.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2020:

Hi John,

Thanks for telling us about the dragons, bulls, peanuts, pigs, and pumpkins that are celebrated in different places around the world. It is fun to see what artists do with these subjects. I am pleased that you enjoyed these images of the decorated cows.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2020:

Hi C E Clark,

It surely was a fun to view fundraiser. Thanks for the visit. Stay safe up there!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 01, 2020:

Very cool idea! Love the cows in dresses. This would truly be a wonderful thing to see. Thanks for the share.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

It would have been fun to see the pigs in your city when they had that fundraiser. Did you take any photos of them? It makes me smile just thinking about it.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on April 30, 2020:

Peggy, this was great. What wonderful imaginations the artists have and some of those cow creations are amazing. Thanks for sharing so many photos. Norwich in the UK has a similar celebration with dragons. Ann Carr wrote a hub about it.

Two towns I have lived in Rockhampton (beef capital of Australia) and Kingaroy (the peanut capital) have parades celebrations with decorated "bulls" and "peanuts" respectively. Kingaroy now also has one with "pigs" at another time of year, and a town called Goomeri has a "pumpkin festival."

C E Clark from North Texas on April 30, 2020:

There are so many it's hard to choose a favorite! This does seem like a fun way to raise money for a good cause.

Texas opens up tomorrow. Really, it's open right now, as it's 12:51 AM. I hope it doesn't turn out to be wishing Texas hadn't been in such a hurry. Like you, I think we still have some challenging days ahead . . .

Stay well.

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 30, 2020:

This was absolutely adorable and so full or personality! I loved looking at all of the photos. What a wonderful way to raise money for a good cause. My city I think did pigs about 20 years ago.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2020:

Hi Diana,

I could have shown you many more, but I thought that you could get a good idea of what they were like with these photos. It was so much fun going around town and photographing them!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2020:

Hi Liz,

The people who live in that stately home must love cows to have one decorated and on display. (Smile)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 30, 2020:

Hi Pamela,

These are just some of the photos of the cows, of which I took photos. We only missed taking the photos of a few of them. It was such a fun fund-raising event for our city.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on April 30, 2020:

I really love these cow creations. The colours and designs are amazing!

Liz Westwood from UK on April 30, 2020:

I once saw a decorated cow at Woburn Abbey, a stately home in the UK. These look amazing.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 30, 2020:

What a great way to raise money! I have never been to a cow parade. I have also never seen so many cows dressed so well. I imagine the children sitting on their backs for pictures are just giggling. This is really a unique event.

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