I Snag An Interview With A Big Celebrity's Posse

I snagged this interview some years ago when I was in college and fulfilling a journalism requirement. Here's the 411:

How Now Brown Cow?

The biggest celebrity at recent fairs in Central Florida did not speak to anyone or sign autographs.

Elsie the Cow, Borden’s 850-pound public relations mascot, had her own booth at the Central Florida Fair and the Winn Dixie Festival of Foods, both held last March in Orlando.

At the Festival of Foods, people stopped when they saw her. Some argued whether she was real or not, and others said they didn’t know cows had horns.

“A lot of kids like to touch her,” Lewis Rayburn, Elsie’s handler, said. “Lots of old-timers who’ve all milked cows like to see her.”

Although many people smile when they see her, Rayburn said he is often reprimanded by animal lovers who think Elsie’s life is cruel.

They needn’t worry.

“She lives a penthouse life,” Rayburn said.

Elsie is bathed and soaped down everyday, according to Rayburn. Her hooves are painted with black shoe polish and her horns sanded and painted with clear lacquer. She wears a golden chain around her horns, travels in an air-conditioned trailer, and takes about two month off each year.

Her home is in Columbus, Ohio, but she spends winters at a private farm in Orlando. Rayburn said Elsie likes to pass her time on the farm walking in pastures, getting dirty, and acting like a regular cow.

But don’t get the idea that Elsie is a cow of leisure. According to Rayburn, Elsie makes more than 300 appearances a year—visiting hospitals, walking in parades, and appearing at fairs and festivals.

During her Orlando appearances, Elsie stood or sat quietly in a lace canopy stall as passers-by admired her.

There’s only one thing Rayburn doesn’t really enjoy about working with Elsie.

“I usually catch it with a bucket or a shovel,” he said.

“Then I spray Lysol.”


Charles Gramlich said...

I grew up on a cattle farm. We had lots of Elsies.

Danette Haworth said...

My cousins lived on a farm. I was so jealous of them!

Mary Witzl said...

Great story, and I particularly like that ending. There are a lot of cows in my neighborhood (real ones, honest!) and I have access to just about as much of their leavings as I like. Great stuff it is, too, and it does my garden a world of good.

Elsie's life sounds wonderful. I wouldn't mind having my hooves polished and my horns sanded and painted.

Virginia Lee said...

One of my favorite field trips ever was going to the local dairy to see how they made ice cream and pasteurized and bottled milk. Alas, I never got to meet an Elsie, but to this day I MOO! when I pass cows while traveling.

Ello said...

I am such a city girl. Cows are totally foreign to me. And I don't do well with dog droppings, cow manure would just slay me. But that was a pretty funny ending.

Danette Haworth said...

Ha! Who knew they gave pedicures to cows?

Virginia Lee,
Mooving story. Okay, that was just lame. What do cows do on Saturday night? Go to the moovies.

I'll stop now.

I remember reading a few years ago about a guy selling necklaces made out of petrified cow dung. GROSS!

Brenda said...


If I'm not mistaken, one year during the New York State Fair, (years ago) Elsie had to leave early because she had a contract to do a Ma & Pa Kettle movie...the fair people didn't want to leave the stall empty, so a bull was brought in and Elsie's parlor became a bachelor's pad...this male bull soon became another famous mascott...Elmer of Elmer's glue...