Winona Lake Bison Headed To State Fair

WINONA LAKE  – A fiber glass bison that highlights Winona Lake’s history will be on display next month at the Indianapolis State Fair.  The fair is Aug. 5 to 21.

There are 14 other communities besides Winona Lake that are participating in the statewide contest and decorating fiber glass bison, according to Joy Lohse, Winona Lake Bison-tennial Committee member.

The winner will be announced at the state fair. First place gets $3,000; second, $2,000; and third, $1,000.

A donor contributed $3,000 to the Kosciusko County Community Foundation and two bison were purchased, one for Winona Lake and one for Warsaw, according to Suzie Light, Community Foundation executive director. Other donors contributed financially and two bison were purchased for North Webster and Syracuse. It all is part of the Indiana Association of United Way Bison-tennial Art Project.

“There are communities across Indiana doing this and they all had opportunities to buy a fiber glass bison,” said Rick Swaim, Winona Lake Bison-tennial Committee member.
Swaim and committee members Lohse and Steve Perry have been working the past eight weeks to decorate the bison. The bison has yellow swim trunks with 13 emblems painted, a life preserver and blue goggles.  The bison has flippers made of green and blue rubber car mats that are hand made. The life-size bison named “Beachy” is 5-1/2 feet tall and 8 feet wide.

“The importance of the emblems is all that is good and right about Winona Lake, and they are things people should be interested in coming to see Winona Lake,” Lohse said. “We chose primary colors because we wanted to tie in with the Splash Pad and the Limitless Park.

”There are painted emblems on the bison of: a Native American princess of when the Miami Indians were in the area, fish, canoes, a bicycle, Winona Lake Princess boat, a picture of dining, swans, Grace College, the sun and a Kosciusko Community Foundation emblem.

Swaim will drive the bison down on a trailer Sunday to the fairgrounds. The Town of Winona Lake donated the trailer as well as a truck. “At the end of the fair, the bison will be picked up and taken back to Winona Lake and be on display at various locations in the town,” Swaim said. The bison will eventually be on permanent display by the beach in Winona Lake. “This is fun and makes people smile, and will be a great attraction for people to come see when they visit or for residents,” Swaim said.

Perry said he has enjoyed painting the bison. “It’s an opportunity to give back to the community. There is so much rich history that a lot of people don’t know about,” Perry said.