Funky & Rural Cool
'Fred the Goat' public art event
centers on a local Vevay legend
Tourism director conceives of new event
VEVAY, Ind. (May 2021) – Fred the Goat is something of an icon in Vevay, Ind. The mischievous goat left quite an impact on the community through his wild adventures and vibrant personality.
“Fred wouldn’t stay on his farm and would run up Vevay Hill to be with a group of horses and ended up getting accepted by a herd of deer,” said Jon Charles Smith, executive director of Switzerland County Tourism.
“I was familiar with Fred the Goat as I drove Vevay hill daily and would always look for Fred in his usual spot,” said Teresa Bovard Lyons, lifelong Switzerland County resident and Switzerland County Tourism board member. “Many tourists driving into the county would spot Fred as they drove down the hill and would say, ‘Did I see a white goat as I came down that hill?’ ”
A load of 20 goat sculptures arrive in Vevay, Ind., to be the center of attention inthe Fred the Goat public art event in May
It’s a story known and loved throughout the region. Though Fred died in 2013, his legacy continues to live on in Switzerland County and even more so through the upcoming Fred the Goat Public Art Gig, which will take place on May 29.
The event comes on the heels of a challenging year for Switzerland County Tourism. “We have a small staff and even smaller budget,” said Smith. “We worked so hard to plan events last year, then Switzerland County had a huge spike in COVID cases. Everything got canceled,” he said, noting the hit the cancellations took on work and finances.
Last November, Smith began brainstorming event ideas that were “COVID-proof.” Smith began thinking about how many big cities have a symbol that represents their culture. “Nashville has giant guitars, New Orleans has saxophones, New York City has the Big Apple. Vevay has the legend of Fred the Goat, which is just beloved,” he said.
Smith said that the story of Fred the Goat fits Vevay’s motto and culture: Artsy, Quirky, Funky, Rural Cool.
“Vevay was on the hippie trail of the late ’60s and ’70s, and there are so many recognized artists who still live here and still have their Brooklyn accents. We’re the smallest county in Indiana, but we have the largest Jewish retreat and youth center and nudist colony around in the middle of Amish country,” he said. “Vevay is just one funky place.”
Smith began thinking of a way to incorporate the story of Fred the Goat and the quirkiness of Switzerland County into a show-stopping event for the year. Enter the Fred the Goat Public Art Gig, an event that will highlight the work of local artists and allow visitors to connect with the story of a hometown hero.
After Fred passed, a white deer appeared on Vevay Hill close to where Fred could previously be spotted on the way into town. “Many people believe Fred was re-incarnated,” said Smith. Soon after, a concrete goat statue mysteriously appeared on the hill.
Smith wanted to tie into the story of Fred by commissioning 20 concrete goat sculptures that will be unveiled at the event at 11 a.m. on May 29. Along with the sculpture reveal, attendees can enjoy music from the Last Drop Jug Band throughout the afternoon and evening. Snacks will be provided at Switzerland County Tourism at 6 p.m.
Throughout the day, attendees will have the chance to visit vendors selling products made from goat milk, food vendors and take photos with live goats.
“I think the Public Art Gig will give Vevay and Switzerland County more recognition as being a little off the beaten path,” said Lyons. “It will be entertaining and engage people of all ages and provide something to do at no cost to anyone wanting to drive to Vevay and see the talent and projects of the arts community.”
The event is generating a lot of buzz, and artists from as far as Nashville and New York City have contacted Smith for information, he said. The goat sculptures will be exhibited into at least 2022, allowing the story of Fred to live on.
• For more information, visit www.switzcotourism.com or call (812) 427-3237.
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