Last Saturday, at an old textile mill in downtown Durham now housing Golden Belt Arts, more than 80 cows were herded onto the scene to make their debut as a group before moo-ving on to their new homes scattered throughout the Triangle.

No, not real cows. These fiberglass, life-sized bovine creations are part of CowParade NC 2012. CowParade is an international public art exhibition which originated in 1999 and has been hosted in 75 cities around the globe to become what has been called the largest and most successful public art exhibition in the world. This year the Triangle is its home.  The cows graze our area for a good cause. In the past, more than $30 million has been raised for non-profit partner organizations, and proceeds from our local stampede will benefit the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.

Each eight-foot long, five-foot high cow has been decorated by a local artist and is completely unique. Many cows celebrate our great state with symbols of local culture or important North Carolina themes or icons. Others hail to a specific area.  A cow on Hillsborough Street suits up in an N.C. State graduation cap and gown, while a few in Chapel Hill are bedecked in Carolina blue and assorted game-day attire.

On Fayetteville St. you may run into “Sir Walter Cowleigh,” who is rocking a pretty serious ruff collar, or the whimsical “Grace’s Cow,” who has sprouted a pair of wings and some insane textural details. Over at the N.C. Museum of Art,“Glitter Cow” resembles a colorful mosaic, and from a distance definitely seems more of a zebra than a bull. At North Hills you will find a cow making her debut on the red carpet in front of the cinema, and outside Wells Fargo on Hillsborough St. “Sprinkles” will no doubt have you booking it to Krispy Kreme after eyeing her resemblance to a certain glazed treat.

The bovine designs are chewing the cud all over the place, but hotspots where the decorated livestock are most concentrated are American Tobacco and Golden Belt in Durham, UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, downtown Raleigh, and North Hills in Raleigh. Get a map here.

The cows will be taking the Triangle by storm until Dec. 7, 2012, when they will be sold at a live auction and all proceeds will go to charity.

Written by local Creative Genius, Katie.