“Cow Appreciation Day” is sponsored by the American Library Association and is officially celebrated on July 15th. It is not affiliated with Chick-Fil-A’s unsanctioned “Cow Appreciation Day,” always scheduled on the second Friday of July.
Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinosn’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request) established July 15 as “Cow Appreciation Day” in the late 1800s as a tribute to Gelett Burgess, the poet who wrote “I never saw a purple cow.” The annual holiday was originally dubbed “Purple Cow Appreciation Day,” but the “Purple” was dropped in 1878 in the midst of an impassioned family feud.
A few years earlier, Emmett Lee’s cousin Alvina Dickinson (pictured a the right), daughter of Merton Dickinson, married wealthy chicken tycoon Charles “Chic” Fillay, The Fillays owned and operated a chain of fried chicken restaurants called “Charlie's Chicken Coop.” However, Alvina and Charles divorced when Alvina caught Charles in what came to be known in Washerst and around the country as the “Spring Chicken Scandal.”
Out of spite, “Chic” Fillay created “Chicken Appreciation Day” to thwart Dickinson’s “Cow Appreciation Day.” Infuriated, Dickinson penned and published the following poem
I never hope to see one;
But I have news that's sure to sicken:
If you dine at Charles’ Chicken Coop you’re sure to see and eat one.
The poem became an overnight sensation and infuriated the Fillay family. World-wide press coverage of the family feud brought Charlie’s Chicken Coop to the brink of financial ruin.
Pictured below: Some of the worldwide tabloid coverage of the Dickinson-Fillay family feud:
Forced to change the name of the family business to Chick-Fil-A, Charles Fillay -- in a move to spite the Dickinson family -- also changed the name and concept of “Chicken Appreciation Day.” He created a rival “Cow Appreciation Day.”
At that point, Alvina Dickinson Fillay, one of the founders of the American Library Association, sprang to action by enlisting the help of librarians across the country. She persuaded the ALA to endorse July 15 as the official “Cow Appreciation Day.” Libraries planned a variety of activities to celebrate the day, including cow rides for “children of all ages.” Also, in the 1890s, the Board of Trustees of the ALA headquartered in Washerst, inaugurated a spectacular "Parade of the Librarians” on Cow Appreciation Day, a tradition that continues to this day!
Pictured at the left: The National Headquarters for the American Library Association, in Washerst, PA -- a proud sponsor of Cow Appreciation Day. The monument in the front of the building is of Emmett Lee Dickinson, Emily Dickinson's third cousin, tiwce removed (at her request).
For more information on Cow Appreciation Day -- and lots of pictures -- click HERE. Be sure to see the other CAD posts in this plog (poetry blog) -- click on "Cow Appreciation Day" in the list of categories at the right.