Will one of these be Utah’s next state flag? Task force gets first glimpse of 5.7K designs

Will one of these be Utah’s next state flag? Task force gets first glimpse of 5.7K designs

Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson points to one of the 5,703 Utah state flag designs posted on the walls of the Utah office building in Milkcreek on Thursday. The state will narrow the area down to about 20 by August as it searches for a new state flag. (Carter Williams, KSL.com)

Estimated Reading Time: 7-8 minutes

MILLCREEK – Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson was strolling a hallway filled with Utah flag designs from top to bottom on Thursday when one caught her eye, forcing her to lean down to get a better view.

It was a blue outline of the famous Delicate Arch in Arkes National Park, painted under an orange sun with three orange lines in the space beneath the famous rock that formed the shape of a beehive. Minutes later, when Henderson found Jill Love, executive director of the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, she drew Love’s attention to the design.

“Did you see one here? It’s got a hive and an arch,” he said, pointing.

The design is one of 5,703 designs that members of the Utah State Flag Task Force have collected over the past few months as the state seeks to redesign its state flag. Task force members got their first glimpse of thousands of these designs in a unique way on Thursday, as each one of the thousands of designs was taped to the wall of the Heritage and Arts Department’s temporary offices in Millcreek.

This is just the start of a long process to narrow the design down to about 20 finalists over the next several weeks. David Vikai, director of strategic initiatives for the Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement, says everything is still on track for the public to get their first look at the top designs in August.

A vote to adopt a new state flag is expected by the end of the year.

thousands of flag designs

The Utah State Flag Task Force was formed last year as the state began its search for a new flag that would be unique and stand out. The current flag has remained untouched for more than a century, but it is one of about two dozen around the country that bear the state’s seal on a blue background.

The task force began the process of collecting flag designs in January, launching a website where people could submit flag designs. The 5,703 designs collected between then and April came from a mix of Utah students, residents, and even fans of flag design from around the world.

Fifty designs were hired by five professional companies in the state; Vikai said his work was mixed within amateur designs to allow for equal competition, as the process of shrinking the area begins.

“When you see them on the wall, it’s really humbling and amazing to see all the involvement of the state in the project and how many people showed up to participate,” he said. “It’s like looking at about 5,703 individual pictures. Each flag tells a personal story, but it also tells, I hope, one story of what they see can represent all of us.”

It is clear from the walls that the Utans were on the same page on some subjects. Mountains and red rocks are a common theme, as are objects related to bees. Many designs have beehives or hives, some even include drawings of bees.

One of the designs surprised Henderson because he thought it looked like a shelf before it was a modern square beehive. The vaulted hive, or scape, to which Utah is traditionally associated, has not been used by beekeepers for over a century and is actually illegal in the United States.

Many of the designs include Utah’s state flower, the sego lily, while others call attention to the state’s prehistoric dinosaurs and place in railroad history. Others highlight the seagull, elk and cherry, which are the state bird, animal and fruit respectively.

Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson leans down to look at one of the 5,703 Utah state flag designs posted on the walls of the Utah office building in Milkcreek on Thursday.  The state will narrow the field down to about 20 designs by August as it searches for a new state flag.
Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson leans down to look at one of the 5,703 Utah state flag designs posted on the walls of the Utah office building in Milkcreek on Thursday. The state will narrow the field down to about 20 designs by August as it searches for a new state flag. (Photo: Carter Williams, KSL.com)

But there are many unique designs in the bunch. A pair of designs contain an onion, which stunned Henderson, Love, and everyone else to tour the design until someone in the room, searching online, blurted out that the Spanish sweet onion is the state vegetable. .

Some even presented the 125th anniversary flag of Utah, which flew over the Utah Capitol last year.

Then it was downright absurd. A flag carrying a shotgun erupted while a dinosaur skiing down a mountain near a fish. There were also a few other mock flags, but most of the designs offered a real view of the state from different lenses. This is what Vikai saw when he saw the flag coming in.

As for colors, various shades of blue and orange seem to dominate the palette along with white. However, every shade of color imaginable ended up on the wall. Some flags even took a page from the Utah Jazz, with either the purple or the team’s Southern Utah-themed City Edition jersey color scheme.

Some of the 5,703 Utah state flag designs posted on the walls of the Utah office building in Milkcreek on Thursday.  The state will narrow the designed area to about 20 by August as it searches for a new state flag.
Some of the 5,703 Utah state flag designs posted on the walls of the Utah office building in Milkcreek on Thursday. The state will narrow the designed area to about 20 by August as it searches for a new state flag. (Photo: Carter Williams, KSL.com)

Henderson admitted that he wasn’t sure what to expect when the design submission process began. However, after seeing the final output – which includes an overwhelming number of designs – he is thrilled about the next task of trying to find the correct state flag for Utah.

“We have so many beautiful options, so many unique designs,” she said. “The creativity is on display here. … It’s been really fun for me to see how many different symbols there are when people think about what Utah means to them.”

Many of the designs the state has received reflect the 1,500 text submissions of values, symbols and colors that VCai submitted to the task force last month. Like those designs, mountains, delicate arches, red rocks, snow, the Great Salt Lake, and national parks were all popular ideas for the state flag. Red and orange, blue and white jumped on top of the major flag colors in that process.

narrow the area

While some of the designs caught Henderson’s eye on Thursday, she’s not entirely sure she’s seen a winning design yet.

A design review committee will take a look at all 5,703 flags on Friday, where they will begin the process of selecting the designs they think deserve further consideration. They will meet again next month to further narrow the field until there are about 20 designs left.

“I think the cream will rise to the top,” Henderson said, adding that it is also possible that the actual winning design is not yet on display because there is a chance that two ideas or more ideas will be mixed together in the future, e.g. Salt Lake City did it two years ago during the process of redesigning its flag.


We may or may not have the (new) state flag. I think we will. I think it’s going to be something that everyone can get excited about.

– Take. Government Deidre Henderson


Utans will be able to view these 20 or so final designs not only online in August, but in physical flag form as well. Vikai said the plan is to make the semifinalist designs into actual flags that people can see flying in person.

“Because it’s a big component of making a good flag a good flag,” he said. “We want to emulate that real-world scenario and if possible allow them (people) to see them (flags), see what they look like when it’s waving, see what they look like when it’s not windy is, (and) see what the flag looks like on the back. There are a lot of factors that go into a flag that make it a good flag, because you can look at things in so many different factors that you just Can’t see on a piece of paper.”

Members of the Utah State Flag Task Force and review committee will take feedback from the public on the 20 finalists to narrow the field to three. The task force will then choose a design that the Utah Legislature will vote on during a special session by the end of the year.

The legislature will have the final say, so it’s also possible that none of the designs on display end up at the Utah Capitol flagpole.

“We may or may not have a (new) state flag. I think we will. I think it will be something that everyone can get excited about,” Henderson said. “I think there’s an opportunity for tourism, for people (out-of-state showcase), something that people can be proud of and help identify as Utans.”

photos

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter covering general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for Deseret News. She is a Utah transplant via Rochester, New York.

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