Seeing Cows Around Acton and CowsParade at Donelans

June 14, 2024
A cheerily painted cow statue -- this one has a mostly orange face, turquoise horns, and a purple body with blue spots. There are also some other cow statues in the background.
Another cow from the CowParade in at Donelan's Plaza in Acton. Photo: KJ Herther

Notice a lot of cows around Acton lately? The painted cows in front of Donelan Fresh Market in Gould’s Plaza on Great Road in Acton have returned. Plus, a short-out to the large cow that appears annually on Route 2 and School Street Fields to mark the 2024 Acton Lions Club Fair (June 13 to 16). And a theatrical performance featuring cows!

A giant brown and white cow appears every year on the School Street field to announce the Lion's Cllub Fair. It is in a trailer and sports a sign on its side that announces that the Lion's Clube Town Fair will be held on the School Street Soccer Field, June 13 - 16.
The Acton Lions Club Town Fair cow appear Route 2 near the School Street fields to announce the Acton Lions Carnival 2024 June 13 to June 16. Photo: Gary Kappel
The plaque for Cosmic Blossom reads: CowParade New England Cosmic Blossom Artist: Adam O'Day Thank you for helping us celbrate 75 years of generosity from the Jimmy Fund community, which continues to support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's lifesaving mission.Tegether, we're all Jimmy. Scan the QE ode to make your gift to the Jimmy Fund and learn more about CowParade New England.
Plaque for Cosmic Blossom introducing her artist and the providing information about the CowParade New England (a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund). Photo: Kim Kastens

What are the painted cows about? A CowParade New England plaque says it is a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund. How does that work? The back story was shared by Larry Gordon, owner of Gould’s Plaza and Colonial Chevrolet of Acton. According to Gordon, one of the art cows was purchased to support the wife of an employee at Colonial Chevrolet who was undergoing cancer treatment. The donation was a way to give to the Jimmy Fund and to give back to the community.

Initially Gordon purchased one art cow for the CowParade donation but Donelan’s Plaza is large so we decided to buy and donate several more art cows because “we didn’t want the cow to be lonely.” Gordon remarked that “the Art cows are all hand painted. I think they look so cool out there and sometimes I drive by and see moms and kids together walking around and playing with the cows. Gordon purchased Donelan’s Plaza, also known as Gould’s Plaza, from Gould’s, who built and owned the plaza and operated Gould’s clothing store for sixty years.

CowParade New England was presented by Herb Chambers in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of the Jimmy Fund and ran for eight years all around Greater Boston, ending in 2023. It supported the Dana Farber Cancer Center. The event featured seventy-five life-sized cows that were on display from June to September. Several of these CowParade New England art cows are now on display at Donelan’s Plaza. The larger CowParade initiative has been deemed the world’s largest and most successful public art event ( staged in more than forty cities worldwide.

A richly decorated cow sculpture. The cow is blow and painted with flowers and other decorative elements. A grocery store is in the background.
Cosmic Blossom CowParade New England in Gould’s Plaza in front of Donelan’s Fresh Market Photo: Kim Kastens

The colorful CowParade statues at Gould’s Plaza complement the Acton Public Art initiative, led by Economic Development Director Julie Pierce and the Town of Acton Economic and Community Development Office, to support local artists and use public art to support local businesses and community. CBS Boston News and the Acton Exchange have previously reported on the initiative.

KJ Herther is an Acton Exchange contributor who works part-time for the Acton Economic and Community Development Office


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