Brown County is trying to get a bison — maybe even a herd.
Fiberglass bison will be decorated across the state to celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial — or bison-tennial — this year. Bison are depicted on the Indiana state seal.
On Jan. 21, the Nashville Town Council voted to support the project, led in part by the Nashville Arts & Entertainment Commission and Brown County Community Foundation.
The Indiana Association of United Ways is facilitating the public art project with the goal of placing one bison, or even a herd, in each of Indiana’s 92 counties to celebrate Indiana’s 200th Statehood Day on Dec. 11.
The 5-foot by 8-foot fiberglass bison would be placed somewhere downtown. Arts and entertainment commission member Nancy Crocker said the plan is to put it in concrete and make it a permanent art piece. Statues weigh less than 100 pounds and can fit through a standard door, said Larry Pejeau, CEO of the community foundation.
Because Brown County does not have a United Way, the community foundation is working with the Indiana Association of United Ways. A local project leader would take over coordinating sponsors, engaging volunteers and the community, and choosing the artist or artists to paint the bison.
The bison is supposed to be decorated in a way that reflects each county. The project leader can pick an artist and a design or have multiple artists submit work examples.
The estimated total cost of the bison is $2,000, which includes delivery and costs to decorate it, Pejeau said.
Funding could be raised by sponsors. Their names could be placed on a sign next to the bison, but no advertising is allowed on the actual statue.
The goal is to have all bison placed in each county and decorated before Memorial Day, ahead of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, which starts Sept. 9 and ends Oct. 15. The relay will go through each Indiana county.
“The hope is that it will be kind of a tourist attraction as people are traveling around and they’ll say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be in Brown County, let’s see if we can find that bison,’” Pejeau said. “Then they can go online and see what it looks like and you (the county) get to tell where the location is, or you can make it like a treasure hunt.”
He hopes other local businesses or organizations will invest in their own bison to decorate.
Since they are relatively lightweight, the bison can be moved; they can also become permanent art pieces.
“If you use the right materials, you can put it outside and it will last 30 years. It’s meant to last,” Pejeau said.