Looking Back: Check out these photos of Kadie the Cow “back in the day”
A little more than a week after retailer Best Buy confirmed its relocation to another Columbus shopping center, the fate of Kadie the Cow has struck a nerve among residents and prompted others in the community to ponder possible new homes for her.
Kadie, a 20-foot fiberglass Holstein dairy cow replica, has stood on the property more than half a century, the symbol for a Kinnett Dairies company that pumped out milk and churned ice cream there until the 2925 Manchester Expressway plant’s closure in 2001, followed by Best Buy’s arrival at the site in 2003.
“Kadie is a well-known and well-loved figure in Columbus,” said Raven Allred, who launched a petition a week ago on the website, change.org, to rally support for keeping Kadie in Columbus.
“She has been a symbol in our community for over 50 years meeting the age requirement for a historical landmark. She has outlived the dairy and the mills and contains within her the spirit of the hard work put into those industries by our loved ones,” said Allred, whose petition had garnered just over 6,000 responses as of Friday, still shy of its 7,500 goal.
Others commenting on the petition agree with that general sentiment, with Kristie Crow remarking, “I remember as a child being so excited seeing her. I have seen the excitement in my children and can’t wait to see my granddaughter’s excitement. She is a landmark of our town and should remain standing right where she has been for over 50 years.”
“So much is changing in this city, let Katie stay! She helps remind me of a kinder and safer Columbus where I grew up,” said Lisa Rollier, while Logan Hickman insisted Kadie isn’t just another “dumb” cow statue. “This is a symbol for everything that Columbus has been through over the years. She has been there ever since before I was born.”
Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy hasn’t said what might become of the property or Kadie when the electronics retailer relocates later this year to the former hhgregg building on Whittlesey Road at Columbus Park Crossing. Best Buy owns its current location and is already marketing it for sale.
However, the ultimate decision on where the iconic cow will stand for years to come will be up to the city. Columbus City Manager Isaiah Hugley confirmed Friday that the city took ownership of Kadie the Cow through a resolution on Feb. 20, 2001. Parmalat Global dairy firm Parmalat USA, which bought out Kinnett Dairies in 1998, gave the replica bovine to the city that year.
“Since 1967 when Kinnett Dairies placed Kadie on the front lawn of the company’s home office in Columbus and named her ‘Kadie, the Amazing Colossal Cow,’ she has become a Columbus icon, popular with young and old, residents and visitors,” a portion of the resolution states.
A native of Columbus, Hugley said he remembers the cow from his own childhood and believes the current original location is where Kadie should remain unless events dictate otherwise.
“Now that we know (Best Buy is) leaving, we don’t know who is going to own the property or what business might be in that building, and it may be they have no issues with it, that they want it to stay there,” the city manager said. “If that’s the case, there would be no need to move it. But if that’s not the case, if the new ownership says they don’t want it, then we would have to look at our options..”
Some think that once Best Buy does leave the property that is accessed by a slight uphill winding drive, it will leave Kadie the Cow open to future vandalism if a new tenant or buyer for the property doesn’t materialize right away. The city even dispatched crews to the Manchester Expressway property adjacent to Peachtree Mall to clean up Kadie the Cow after someone vandalized it in September 2001, before Best Buy’s arrival, by throwing red paint on the black-and-white replica.
Amid the current nostalgia and concerns by residents, there are some who would like to find a safer place for Kadie to graze, but also put it in a more visible location that would allow residents to take pictures with it and reminisce as they have through the years.
Reynolds Bickerstaff, co-owner of Bickerstaff Parham Real Estate in Columbus, said he has a couple of parties interested in purchasing the dairy cow replica with the intent of anchoring it either in north Columbus or perhaps in the downtown area. He can envision thousands of people — local residents and visitors alike — constantly grabbing pictures with Kadie.
“It still tells a story and the story’s still relevant,” he said. “My kids point to it every time we drive by. I remember taking tours at Kinnett Dairy when it was open and sampling ice cream. It’s relevant for the town and it’s something that’s cool, and we thought it would be nice to relocate it somewhere like Uptown.”
There’s also Allen Woodall, owner of the Lunchbox Museum on Hamilton Road, who said he would like to throw his hat in the ring, so to speak, for giving Kadie the Cow a home atop his building, next to a T-Rex statue already there that was made years ago by local folk artist Butch Anthony.
“It would be a wonderful place for a view because it looks over Veterans Parkway and Hamilton Road, and River Road comes right across and dead ends here,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of traffic and visibility here, and with the T-Rex already on the building, Kadie the Cow would be a great addition.”
Or perhaps one of the more logical places for Kadie to land would be not far from its existing stomping ground. Alex Vann, who operates the Chick-fil-A restaurant at the corner of Manchester Expressway and Armour Road, said that’s why he is pitching the location as a possibility on the Chick-fil-A sign out front. “We’d love to adopt Kadie the Cow,” it reads. And, of course, black-and-white cows have been a prominent piece of the chicken sandwich chain’s marketing for years.
“It’s very simple for us. Why did the cow cross the road? To get to Chick-fil-A,” Vann joked earlier this week.
“We feel like we’ve got a little greener pasture here,” he said. “I feel like we could increase Kadie’s visibility tremendously. I think Kadie is a really unique part of Columbus history — the Kinnett family, Kinnett Dairies, and all that they did for the community. That was their gift to the city when they sold the property … and the stipulation was that Kadie would remain.”
Although there obviously would need to be approval from others, Vann said he has a spot picked out on his large lot for the bovine. The traffic passing by would give Kadie even more attention than it currently has, he said.
“I would love to put her here where people would come up and take their picture with her,” he said. “It would really increase the visibility and accessibility of Kadie for our entire community. She’s always been a landmark. She’s just got kind of hidden over the years, and I think this is an opportunity … Ultimately, I think the mayor or city manager’s office would have to weigh in on this.”
However, one piece of the attraction won’t be the baby replica calf that popped up next to Kadie shortly after Best Buy opened its store in 2003. No one knows where the small creature, apparently named “BeBe,” came from or where it has disappeared to since then.
A reader emailed the Ledger-Enquirer this week saying he saw the small cow in a Best Buy storage room when he worked there eight years ago. But Katie Huggins, who is with Best Buy’s public relations, said Thursday the calf is no longer at the Columbus store.
The calf did make an impression, however, with it joining Kadie the Cow as the top piece of public art in a 2005 poll by the Ledger-Enquirer. Kadie and BeBe garnered 26 percent of the vote, followed by the fountain at the intersection of Wynnton and Buena Vista roads, and the “Iron Mike” statue at Fort Benning.