Faces at the Fair: Paul Messerschmidt, Gooseman

    Paul Messerschmidt herds a gaggle of costumed geese around the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, telling fairgoers tall tales about his feathered friends.

    Posted on July 26, 2014 at 9:25 p.m.

    It’s hard to miss the Gooseman at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.

    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.

    You can find more Faces at the Fair here or choose one of the two below.


    Felicia Frisco

    Tiger trainer


    David Holderman

    Volunteer at the Goshen Noon Kiwanis Club

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