Garfield, the Fat Cat, Then and Now

Garfield the Cat, Garfield Cartoon, Jim Davis Garfield,

Garfield, the lasagna-loving fat cat, has roots right here in Grant County. Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis, grew up in Fairmount Indiana on a farm with – you guessed it! Cats! Lots of them!! His childhood doodles eventually evolved into the beloved characters we know and love today.

Jim Davis, Garfield the Cat, Odie, Fairmount Indiana famous nativesJim Davis, spent his childhood on a farm in Fairmount with his parents, brother and 25 cats. Yep, 25! As a child, he spent time doodling. Eventually, he attended Ball State University, close to home in Muncie, to study art and business. One of his first attempts at a cartoon strip was called Gnorm Gnat, but the newspaper rejected it, saying that a bug was unrelatable.

Undeterred, Davis literally went back to the drawing board to develop the perfect critter to star in his comic strip. He noticed there were a lot of strips about dogs, but none about cats. Upon that revelation, he began sketching cats based off of the strays on his family farm, eventually settling on an orange, lazy cat. And then, a star was born!

Davis lovingly named the cat Garfield. On June 19, 1978, the first Garfield strip was published. The fat, lasagna-loving cat quickly became a fan favorite and remains one of the most popular cartoon characters in the world. Comic readers love Garfield’s cynical antics, lazy demeanor and witty sarcasm. Occasionally, Garfield lets his softer side show, but that’s usually only reserved for his beloved teddy bear, Pooky, and only when he thinks no one is looking.

Jim Davis and Garfield still have strong ties to Indiana today. Davis currently lives in Albany, Indiana which is also the location of  Paws Inc., the comic studio that publishes Garfield. Davis manages Garfield’s expansive licensing, syndication and entertainment empire. Paws, Inc. is located just 45 minutes away from Davis’ birthplace of Marion.

To pay homage to the cool cat, communities throughout Grant County installed statues of Garfield. Each of the 14 glossy fiberglass statues reflect the heritage and character of their location. The Garfield Trail begins with a mellow Garfield in Marion. Grant County visitors can easily spot all of the Garfield statues, along with his comical hijinks, all in one day.

Garfield Trail, Paws for Thought, Garfield Garden, Trailhead, MarionPaws for Thought

Garfield Garden at Community Foundation of Grant County, Marion

Discover Garfield posing in a paw print-shaped Garden. Take a selfie, posing cross-armed with the sarcastic cat. Pop in and staff will unlock the gates for you.

Bookworm Garfield, Garfield Trail, Marion Public LibraryBookworm Garfield

Marion Public Library, Marion

Garfield loves learning and reading. He is a comic book star, afterall. Each book on Garfield’s stack tell the history of Grant County. While visiting the Library, be sure to check out the “History Made Here” exhibit.

Garfield Speedking, Garfield Trail, SwayzeeSpeedking Garfield

Near Alumni Park, Swayzee

Play “hoops” with Garfield, because in Indiana, basketball is king. Here, he dons a crown and uniform of Swayzee’s former high school basketball team, the Speedkings. The first court built for high school basketball was located at the Speedking’s high school in the 1960s. The Speedkings also won longest high school game in history with nine overtimes.

 College Bound, Garfield Trail, Sweetser Switch Trail, SweetserCollege Bound Garfield

Sweetser Switch Trail and Depot, Marion

Garfield is dressed to impress in a light blue bow tie and hat. He’s carrying his suitcase ready to board the boxcar. The former Sweetser railway is now a trail that’s connected to the Cardinal Greenway. In addition to Garfield and the boxcar, the trail features interesting statues.

Dr. Garfield, Marion Hospital, Marion, Garfield TrailDr. Garfield

Marion General Hospital, Marion

Garfield looks ready to help with his stethoscope, gauze and first aid kit. These heroic doctors and nurses are prepared to spring into action in any medical situation. Garfield is here for cute support.

Garfield Trail, Fit for Life, Marion, Matter Park GardensFit for Life Garfield

Matter Park Gardens, Marion

Jogging really isn’t his style, but the fat cat hits the trail in his Marion sweat suit and sneakers. When you are a star, you’ve got to at least look the part, right? Starting at Matter Park Gardens, Garfield can meander the Mississinewa Riverwalk all the way to downtown Marion.

 Duffer Garfield, Arbor Trace Golf Course, Marion, Garfield TrailDuffer Garfield

Arbor Trace Golf Clubhouse, Marion

Garfield is ready to hit the green in his Scottish golf knickers as Grant County’s only wooden Garfield statue. To protect it from harsh weather, this Garfield statue is on display April through November during daylight hours.

Garfield Trail, Van Buren, Worldly CatWorldly Cat Garfield

Van Buren Public Library, Van Buren

The lasagna-loving cat has another delicious snack favorite – popcorn. Van Buren is home to Weaver popcorn, so it’s only fitting that Garfield is ready to sample. He wears Van Buren’s former high school’s athletic team uniform while holding a globe. Look closely at the globe, and you’ll notice a piece of popcorn marking Van Buren’ location.

Garfield Trail, Gone Fishin, MatthewsGone Fishin’ Garfield

Matthews Town Hall, Matthews

Garfield has all his gear and is ready to go fishing on the Mississinewa River. Not even tempted to eat it, he is holding his catch of the day on this back. He’s not too far from Cumberland Covered Bridge, which is another favorite fishing spot for locals.

Cool Cat, Garfield Trail, Fairmount Historical Museum, James DeanCool Cat Garfield

Fairmount Historical Museum, Fairmount

Looking suave and cool, Garfield channels his inner rebel, wearing James Dean’s iconic red jacket and jeans. Stop in to see the extensive Garfield exhibit and take home a Garfield souvenir from the gift shop.

Firefighter, Garfield Trail, JonesboroFirefighter Garfield

Jonesboro City Hall, Jonesboro

Jonesboro is the home to the first volunteer fire department in Grant County. Garfield wears his helmet and holds a firehose, standing by to support the firemen.

Glass Blower, Gas City, Garfield Trail, LibraryGlass Blower Garfield

Gas City-Mill Township Public Library, Gas City

Gas City was founded when natural gas was discovered in the area. It quickly became a boom town. Eight glass factories popped up around town. To celebrate this town’s heritage, Garfield tries his hand (paw?) at glass blowing.

British Garfield, Garfield Trail, Payne's Restaurant, Gas CityBritish Garfield

Payne’s Restaurant, Gas City

As the newest addition on the Trail, Garfield stands on guard at the English-themed restaurant. Donning a bright red coat, sword and tall hat, he can’t be missed. He must have gotten the idea when he was on set in London for Garfield: The Tale of Two Kitties.

Garfield Trail, Scream for Ice Cream, Ivahoe's Drive In, UplandScream for Ice Cream Garfield

Ivanhoe’s Drive In, Upland

There’s no food this cat can’t conquer, including Ivanhoe’s 100 milkshake and 100 sundae flavors. He hasn’t earned his place on the 100 Club by trying every flavor, but it isn’t for lack of trying.

Garfield is beloved throughout the world, but especially in Grant County. We look forward to sharing this hometown favorite with you.

Share your Garfield Trail selfies using #GarfieldTrail! Follow the fat cat using the official Garfield Trail Map.

Grant County

About Grant County

Grant County, Indiana, is home to nifty attractions, outtasight events and rebellious celebrities. Whether it’s saddle shoes, classic cars, vintage bikes, James Dean, or Garfield, we love everything classic and cool. Have a blast just 90 minutes North of Indy.

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