The local representative of Indiana’s bicentennial is a quiet, colorful sort who could assume rock-star status by year’s end.

Faster than you can say Hoosier heartland, the 5-foot tall, 100-pound character has become a big symbol of a growing celebration spanning festivals, art shows, you name it.

Such is life for Bart the Bison, the fiberglass fixture now making the rounds to promote the bicentennial, the upcoming related torch relay and the importance of herding history into a place of prominence.

“We wanted something light and fun to help the whole community enjoy the bicentennial,” said Kyle Hendricks, marketing and communications coordinator for United Way of Bartholomew County. “And Bart definitely will be touring this summer.”

The Indiana Association of United Ways, of which the local agency is a member, launched the pun of an idea of United Ways across the state purchasing fiberglass bison to market the bicentennial this year. Some of those agencies have purchased several, or, as they say, a herd.

Bartholomew County spent $1,100, all from a single United Way donor who is passionate about the bicentennial, to buy one to help the public graze on the idea of 200 years of impact.

Then, children’s artist Andrew Young, Foundation For Youth’s director of youth development, decided to give Bart a beautiful coat and a personality all his own.

The front and the bulk of Bart’s body shimmers in black, flecked with bright green squiggles. His hindquarters shine in bright blue, with his underside as green as a farm field.

“I wanted the front of him to look realistic, but also artsy and vibrant since we deal with youth, because I thought it should be attractive to the kids,” Young said.

He succeeded there. Maybe too much so.

“It’s been tough to keep the kids (at Columbus Youth Camp) from climbing on it,” Young said.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.