Cow Parade in Ventspils

CowParade is an international public art exhibit that has featured in major world cities. Fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by local artists, and distributed over the city centre, in public places such as train stations, important avenues, and parks. They often feature artwork and designs specific to local culture, as well as city life and other relevant themes.

After the exhibition in the city, which may last many months, the statues are auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity.

There are a few variations of shape, but the three most common shapes of cow were created by Pascal Knapp, a Swiss-born sculptor who was commissioned to create the cows specifically for the CowParade series of events. Pascal Knapp owns the copyrights to the standing, lying, and grazing cow shapes used in the CowParade events.


The concept of "cow parade" has its origins in Zürich, Switzerland, in 1998 by artistic director Walter Knapp, it is based on an idea which was realised in the same city for the first time in 1986: Lions as the symbol of Zurich were painted and then on display throughout the city.

The Zürich exhibit 1998 was not called "cow parade" - it was called Land in Sicht (roughly translated as "Countryside in view"). The concept was brought to the United States when Chicago businessman Peter Hanig, along with Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg, organized an event in Chicago in 1999 called Cows on Parade. A Swiss company, CowHolding Parade AG, started to explore the idea. The American company capitalizing on this idea, CowHolding Parade, was founded in 1999; the Swiss company promptly sued but the case fizzled out without results. A bronze casting of one of the cows is on permanent display in Chicago in commemoration of the city's initial exhibition.

The success of this venture inspired many other cities to host similar fundraising projects. The idea has been taken up by other cities which have chosen animals for public art projects with painted fiberglass sculptures.

In 2002, Ventspils hosted the Cow Parade 2002, which is one of the largest and most successful public art events in the world. 26 natural-size glass fibre cows were then turned into spectacular works of art and sold in a charity auction. Six exhibits from this Cow Parade in Ventspils are still remnant in the city.

In 2012, marking the 10th anniversary of the “Cow Parade Ventpils 2002” events, Ventspils streets, squares and parks once again gave home to 24 colourful and diverse participants of “Cow Parade Ventspils 2012”. After the charity auction the cows have moved to their new owners, but some of them still delight the residents and guests of Ventspils. All in all there are seventeen of them.

3, a little bit bigger cows have joined this herd- Sailor Cow, Travelling Cow, Flower Cow - all of them 4m high and 7m long.

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