2014 was the “Year of the Ox” in Hopewell Valley, and the year we started seeing painted oxen appear around the Hopewell and Pennington area. Sixty eight oxen to be exact, which were all painted by local artists and community groups to bring recognition to the town’s agricultural history and help support the Hopewell Valley Arts Council organization. They titled this large-scale project the Hopewell Stampede, and it’s become a way of celebrating art in the everyday.
While you can see plenty of these oxen stationed alongside roads, farm stands, parks and commercial plazas, many of them were auctioned off at the “Stampede Option Gala” in early 2015. The gala not only raised over $100,000 for the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, but created a greater focus on the arts in the community.
The Hopewell Valley Arts Council has put together a map of all 68 oxen, available on their website www.hvstampede.org. The map not only provides a driving, cycling and walking tour of the Stampede, it offers fun things to do in and around Hopewell Valley.
Since many of the oxen have been auctioned off for private use you won’t be able to see all of them, but you can still catch several of the oxen in their original locations.
The Stampede brought together school groups and senior citizens who decorated the fiber glass oxen to stand guard at their buildings, businesses and community groups. Each oxen also comes with a name plate and naming them was part of the fun of the project, with names such as Van Gox, Think Inside the Ox and Oxymoron.
At Howell Living History Farm, where live oxen roam, a painted ox is a tribute to the farming history of the region. On East Broad Street in Hopewell Borough, an ox depicts the streetscape of the town. “Lucky Lindy,” found at the corner of Pennington Rocky Hill Road and Bailey Court, tells the story of the town’s most famous resident, Charles Lindbergh, who completed the first, non-stop transatlantic flight as a pilot. Each oxen has a unique story, spirit and beauty.
Overall the project brought together an entire town to celebrate its history and to celebrate the arts. We urge you to visit the oxen in person to truly embrace their whimsy and learn why Hopewell Valley is such a special part of Mercer County. You can also view all 68 oxen designs here: https://www.hvstampede.org/category/oxen/
If you catch an oxen, stop and take a picture and share it with us! Tag #visitmercer and we’ll share your snap on our page!