Carrie Rengers

What’s that cow looking so proud about?

Artist Mark D. Pendergrass spruces up the cow at the entrance of Hiland Dairy Foods at 700 E. Central on Wednesday morning. A new sign for the building will follow within six weeks.
Artist Mark D. Pendergrass spruces up the cow at the entrance of Hiland Dairy Foods at 700 E. Central on Wednesday morning. A new sign for the building will follow within six weeks. The Wichita Eagle

You can’t blame a girl who, after decades of very little pampering, decides to treat herself a bit.

And that’s just what’s happening with the Hiland Dairy Foods mascot – the black-and-white cow that has sat over the door at the business at 700 E. Central for at least half a century.

“The cow’s getting a facelift, and it’s overdue,” says general manager Jerald Grey.

Painter Mark D. Pendergrass approached Hiland about painting a mural at the building. Grey says he wasn’t interested, “but I said, ‘If you want, you could paint that cow.’ 

“That thing’s got a lot of people who appreciate it,” Grey says.

The cow does not have a name.

“Maybe we should do a name-the-cow contest,” Grey says.

Whether or not she gets a new name, he says the cow has some new features, such as a proper pink udder for the first time and some details around her eyes “like a real cow.”

Grey says it’s “a little more true to life.”

Though the cow sometimes dresses up for special events, such as to celebrate the Shockers, Grey nixed an idea to paint the Hiland logo on her side.

“Dressing it up for an occasion is one thing,” he says. “We’re not wanting it to be too cheesy.”

The cow doesn’t need to sport the logo for the Hiland name to get attention. Miracle Signs is making a new LED Hiland sign for the east end of the building that will be 12 feet high and 18 feet wide.

“It’s going to be a big sign right on the building,” Grey says.

The company’s previous sign was on the roof, but it’s been deteriorating. Grey says he’s had it fixed three times for a total of $23,000.

The other day, a letter fell off.

“Rather than fix it for a fourth time, we decided to remove it,” Grey says. “The roof is a hazard with the wind events we have here.”

He says it was a constant worry.

“I didn’t want anybody to get hurt.”

So he had the sign taken down, although its “super structure,” as he calls it, is still there.

“That’s been here for generations,” Grey says of the tall steel structure.

He says he has an idea for something else to do with it.

“We’re going to talk about the possibility of putting something up there again,” he says. “It’s very expensive to do what we want to do.”

For now, he’s focusing on the new sign going on his building, which should be up within six weeks.

“It’s impressive,” Grey says. “I mean, it’s going to be first class.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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