The addition of personalized, artistic concrete goats around Vevay has caused interest around the community — as well as an increase in tourism — but recent acts of vandalism have tourism officials looking for answers, and those responsible.
Jon Charles Smith, executive director of Switzerland County Tourism, says that at least nine of the goats have been damaged — most through vandalism and some through accidents.
The ongoing vandalism has been continuing, with some goats being damaged as recently as Monday night of this week.
“I’m just sick about it,” Smith said. “Our visitorship is up over 300-percent, and a travel writer has been assigned to do a feature story for ‘Indianapolis Monthly’, which is all 50 states and 79 countries and it could be syndicated, as it’s part of the Indianapolis Media Group. She wants pictures of the goats with the artists and the true story of the ‘Fred the Vevay Hill Goat’ legend. Now, we’re down to very few that haven’t bee whacked.”
Smith said that the vandalism has occurred over a period of weeks, saying that the first one was a goat created by the late Ann Farnsley in late July, that was located on Main Street between Red’s Package Store and the Vevay Main Street office. At that time, tourism officials assumed it was an accident.
“The real heart breaker was Ann Farnsley’s goat, which she really put a lot of time into,” Smith said. “I think she knew it was going to be one of her last works. What we thought had happened was someone with an SUV or a large truck hit it with a bumper; but I’ve had to move these things, and they are so sturdy, they’re solid concrete. I don’t even think tapping it with a bumper would have done it, but that was the beginning of it. Her goat was repaired before she passed away. Lou Coghill, the wood artist, was able to repair it before she passed. It’s now stored safely. She was so upset about it in the middle of all she was going through. The number of people who come in and say, ‘What’s going on with this?’, it’s just sad. Something that was so successful and so positive. It just breaks my heart.”
Smith said that the decorated goats started as a small project, but quickly grew — with more than 100 concrete goats now on order as more and more people want them for their yards, as well as the collaborative effort that Tourism has with the Community Art Center.
“I just don’t see what purpose damaging these goats serves,” Smith said. “It’s just so senseless.”
Smith said that the goats, as well as the ‘Veva_’ sign where people can by the ‘Y’ — has also been popular with visitors here.
“There was a group from Houston, Texas, that was here, and they took their picture making the ‘Y’ and they took a picture of the American Flag goat in front of the courthouse, and they just thought it was the coolest thing. They came back and showed me their pictures on their phones,” Smith said. “It makes me furious that this has been happening.”
(Editor’s note: the American Flag goat in front of the courthouse was damaged due to an accident, not vandalism.)
Smith said that Tourism was gathering information and would be working to file a formal police report this week with hopes that the perpetrators can be caught. Security video from area businesses and homes is also be examined to see if the criminals are seen during the vandalism.
“We found our niche, and it’s a really cool niche,” Smith said. “Our visitorship has increased from the goats to the sculpture to everything else going on by word of mouth. It’s just disappointing.”
Know something about these acts of vandalism? Contact the Vevay Police Department at (812) 427-3737 or the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department at (812) 427-3636.