Tonight, we will be exploring what makes Clark County such a unique and special place in Wisconsin. Starting with one of Clark County’s longest, and most recognizable citizens, who is quite the chatterbox.
While cows are a common site across the Dairy State, one Holstein stands, literally, head and shoulders above the rest. The bellow of a cow’s moo is quite common around Clark County, but a monologue in perfect English is usually not what follows
Chatty Belle holds the title of “world’s largest talking cow” and is an icon of the city of Neillsville.
“It’s a pretty hot tourist destination, whether people are driving by or world’s fair aficionados seeking it out. People come to visit from far and wide to see the car and the building.”
Logan Grapp is quite familiar with the central Wisconsin broadcasting stations housed in the Wisconsin Pavilion. The site of Chatty Belle.
“My family’s owned and operated my whole life. So, this this place means a lot to me. And it’s a family tradition to kind of keep things going.”
While Grapp’s been around the Pavilion since birth, Chatty Belle’s been around even longer. When the Wisconsin Pavilion represented the state in the 1964 World’s Fair, Chatty unfortunately did not make the trip.
“Chatty was not at the World’s Fair. The building was. A lot of people get confused by that. So, the building was the first thing on site here. And Chatty Belle was brought in a year later.”
Construction on Chatty wasn’t finished by the time of the World’s Fair. However, following the location’s placement in Neillsville, Chatty Belle started drawing attention from all over the state.
“When they brought Chatty about here in 1967, they asked the extension dairyman for the University of Madison, and he said that she had about seven times the size of a regular Holstein. And Chatty Belle could be able to consume 11 tons of grain. 25 and a half tons of hay. 25 and a half tons of silage per year. And she would be able to produce about £83,000 of milk annually, roughly £270 a day.”
Despite coming onto the scene in large fashion, 16 by 20 feet worth of fiberglass to be exact, Chatty Belle arrived nameless to Neillsville. A contest was held in elementary school classes, which was won by Loyal resident Jody Smith.
“Her and I were sitting in the kitchen debating what to call the cow. And mom said something about that it talks. And so somehow, we got the name Chatty, and I said something about that cow have bells. And that’s how we got Chatty Belle.
“There was like two or 3000 that had entered, and I was at the catholic school in first grade when they announced who had won. The nun had turned the radio on for us because it was very important, and they announced my name and I started crying.”
Besides the naming rights to Chatty Belle, Hartl was also provided a unique prize.
“There was 100 pounds of butter, and my mom and dad donated 50 pounds to the catholic school. And then we just picked up whenever we needed butter.”
The Wisconsin Pavilion houses dozens of pictures of the site’s history, complete with pictures of a young Smith with Chatty Belle.
“I’m down there with the governor and my family. And I don’t remember much of that day. I do remember standing by him and just in awe of all the people that were there”
She still cherishes the experience to this day.
“I’m very proud of naming Chatty Belle.”
Chatty Belle recently celebrated her 58th birthday, nearly six decades spent as a monument to the Dairy State and save for the occasional maintenance on her voice box, won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.