He looks like Santa Claus in the summer, with his bushy white beard, colorful beanie and cut-off overalls. Instead of elves, he shepherds a gaggle of costumed geese around the fairgrounds with his walking stick.
And if you look closely, you might catch a glimpse a months-old skunk peeking its head out from under his arm.
Paul Messerschmidt is the Gooseman, a traveling performer who herds a gaggle of costumed geese around fairs and festivals around the country. He said his avian friends have around “2,500 miles on their feet”, miles which have brought them from their Iowa home to the northern Indiana fair.
On Wednesday, July 23, he walks the girls. They wear bows on their back, crocheted cozies and strung-up pacifiers around their necks. Some fairgoers reach their hands out to the geese, hoping to caress the birds. Others are a little more apprehensive. Everyone takes pictures.
Messerschmidt’s favorite part of being the Gooseman is seeing the smiles on children’s faces. He even lets kids feed his geese Cheetos and Mountain Dew, just as long as they don’t chase his birds.
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