Hundreds of volunteers from the Walldog painting community have descended upon Beaver Dam this week to paint 15 murals on the sides of businesses throughout the downtown area, and the Dodge County Fair got in on the action.

The Walldogs are an international group of talented sign painters and mural artists who provide the opportunity for rural communities to boost tourism through hosting a “Walldog Festival.” They work with community leaders to design murals which illustrate the history that built the community. Then the city plans a festival to help initiate tourism. The Beaver Dam Walldogs Mural Festival has been dubbed “Decorate the Dam.”

The Dodge County Fair has a strong history in the Beaver Dam community, starting more than 130 years ago. As a result, fair leaders decided to invest in a mural and support the community tourism effort. The Dodge County Fair mural is being painted on the Center-Street side of Ming’s Garden Restaurant, 150 Front Street.

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Each mural is organized by a designated project leader, who is the only paid artist. The project leader is in charge of the design, crew, and overall mural organization. Wade Lambrigtsen, Menomonie, Wis., a full-time sign painter and graphic designer, is the Dodge County Fair mural project leader.

“Nancy Bennett, who organized the Walldogs 21 years ago, contacted me in December and asked if I was interested in being a project leader,” noted Lambrigtsen. “She listed the different mural themes planned for Beaver Dam; when she mentioned the Dodge County Fair, I thought it sounded kind of cool.”

“I was sent more than 100 pages of history about the fair, and when I saw the 1887 promotional poster, I knew it was right. I liked the illustrations of the poster; I loved the way it was written and the subject matter.” After discovering the poster, Lambrigtsen changed the organization from a vertical poster to horizontal — to better accommodate the mural space — and found a way to add “Dodge County” to the image, as the original poster only included the word “Fair.”

John Holland, South Lake Tahoe, Calif., is a volunteer Walldog artist and spent the day, Thursday, June 29, 2017, painting the two large horses and buggy in the fair mural. “I paint for a living — murals for 48 years,” commented Holland. “I do things like this to give back to communities.”

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The “Decorate the Dam” Walldogs Mural Festival continues until Sunday, July 2. Community residents and visitors are encouraged to walk around and view the artists at work. A live auction is scheduled for Saturday night, 7:30 p.m., at The Watermark. The public is invited to purchase souvenirs at the auction; among other items, smaller-sized images — the original art — of all the murals will be auctioned.

The Dodge County Fair is scheduled for Aug. 16-20, 2017.

Written by Dori Lichty — farm wife, 4-H Mom, and full-time communicator