Fun on the run: Student’s Paul Bunyan and Babe baseball design wins race T-shirt contest

Smith’s artwork will be featured at Carson 5 and 10 race Oct. 28
​Jerry Poling | October 23, 2023

It’s a scene that mashes two eras of Wisconsin history: Paul Bunyan in a baseball uniform and Babe the Blue Ox wearing a baseball glove on one of its horns as they run past historic Carson Park baseball stadium in Eau Claire.

The folklore figures are the centerpiece of a lively, playful interpretation by Isabel Smith, a UW-Stout game design and development-art student. Her design has won a T-shirt contest for the 55th annual Carson 5 and 10 race scheduled Saturday, Oct. 28, at the park.

Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and Carson Park baseball stadium are featured on Isabel Smith’s winning T-shirt design for the Carson 5 and 10.
Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and Carson Park baseball stadium are featured on Isabel Smith’s winning T-shirt design for the Carson 5 and 10. / Contributed photo

Smith covered all the bases with her creation, including the name of the race encapsulated in a baseball being hit out of the park. The park has a logging museum and statues of Paul and Babe. The event, with 10-mile, 5-mile and kids’ event options, starts and finishes in the park, and runners go past the statues and stadium.

The contest this year asked applicants to tie together aspects of the race, park and baseball, according to Director Wade Zweiner. The Chippewa Valley Museum in the park has a current exhibit highlighting the history of baseball in Eau Claire, much of it happening at the nearly 90-year-old stone stadium.

“I think the balance of the representation of both Carson Park’s race and the region’s baseball history is what makes it successful. However, I also think there’s just something fun and charming about seeing Paul and Babe in their baseball gear,” said Smith, who won $100.

Smith, a third-year student from Greendale, west of Milwaukee, researched attractions at the park and went to the museum to see the baseball exhibit and get a better understanding of and inspiration for the topic. 

Her caricature of the stadium, for example, includes a silhouette of the statue of the late Major League Hall of Famer Henry Aaron, who began his minor league career there.
 

Isabel Smith, a UW-Stout game design and development student, won a T-shirt design contest for the Carson 5 and 10 race Oct. 28 in Eau Claire.
Isabel Smith, a UW-Stout game design and development student, won a T-shirt design contest for the Carson 5 and 10 race Oct. 28 in Eau Claire. / Contributed photo

“My overall interest in the competition grew as I learned more about the park and its history,” Smith said.

A Design Drawing class “helped me the most when it came to quickly ideating different designs,” she said. Other classes in 2D Digital Imaging and in Pixel and Vector Art, the latter creating art using geometric computer graphics, also helped her develop skills she used in the project.

UW-Stout’s School of Art and Design, with six Bachelor of Fine Arts, two Bachelor of Science programs and a Master of Fine Arts in design, is the largest in the Upper Midwest with nearly 1,300 students. It has been named one of the best game design and best graphic design schools in the country. 

Smith said she’s enjoying her UW-Stout experience “very much. I’m currently in a lot of classes I’m interested in, and I can’t wait to learn and grow more as I continue my education. I’m very excited to enroll for next semester’s classes and see what the school year brings.”

This is the second straight year a UW-Stout student won the Carson 5 and 10 T-shirt competition. Last year, winner Sara Nyhus, of Roberts, also featured Paul Bunyan and Babe.

The Carson 5 and 10 is one of the oldest continuously run races in Wisconsin. About 250 runners are expected.

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