(May 22, 2023) – As the saying goes, the grass is greener when goats are around. Kingsport, however, is more colorful thanks to a herd of goats frolicking around town.
New to Kingsport this year is a herd of uniquely painted goats that have taken the community by storm. The group is made up of 10 life-size fiberglass goats, each given a distinct design by a local artist. The sculptures made their debut at The Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T.) Festival: A Celebration of the Arts, a three-day festival at the Kingsport Farmers Market earlier this year.
The festival was presented by Engage Kingsport and the Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts in partnership with Create Appalachia, Inventor Center, Kingsport Art Guild and Downtown Kingsport Association. The event was a community effort to host a celebration of the arts and to promote the display of public art.
Commenting on the success of the inaugural festival, cultural arts coordinator Beth Estep said, “This really was a celebration of the arts and the diverse talents around the Tri-Cities. It’s great to see that so many people came together to support the festival, the goats and the vendors.”
Amidst the ensemble of goats, one goat stands as a tribute to the history of East Tennessee State University. Captain Kidd pays homage to ETSU’s original mascot, a live goat who proudly bore the same name. From 1950 to 1957, Captain Kidd served as ETSU’s official mascot.
Jason Flack, local artist, curator and speaker, breathed new life into the university’s storied past, creating a rendition of Captain Kidd, adding a touch of superhero flare. With the help of another local artist, Matt White, the two created a goat that is clothed in superhero attire, including a navy mask and a gold cape.
“Growing up in Johnson City, I knew that the first real mascot for ETSU was not a Buccaneer, but a goat named Captain Kidd,” said Flack. “Having the opportunity to create this piece of art allowed me to sort of redirect Captain Kidd and make the goat more of a superhero this time around. It is something positive and uplifting, and a little silly, which I feel we could all use in our current world.”
Beyond their fun appearance at the G.O.A.T. Festival, the herd will “frolic” around Kingsport, providing residents and visitors a chance to see the unique display of colorful, public art. The herd will appear in many different locations, including Allandale Mansion, the Renaissance Center, the Kingsport Aquatic Center, Bays Mountain Park and City Hall. They’ll also parade through the streets of Kingsport during the annual Kingsport Fun Fest which will take place July 14-22. Each station has a selfie spot at which guests may snap a photo.
Captain Kidd and the herd of goats are a showcase of local talent, but also can spark inspiration and conversation about the importance of creativity and community. Whether it is through an event like the G.O.A.T. Festival, eclectic art collections on display or encouraging positivity through art, ETSU is committed to embracing the power of the arts and what it can do for the people of the region and beyond.
Follow the goats and find out where they will be next by visiting thisiskingsport.com/goats. Learn more about Jason Flack on Instagram, @artbyjasonflack, or hear him speak on ETSU’s campus at TEDxJohnsonCity on Tuesday, June 6, at the Martin Center for the Arts.