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One week notice for round No. 1 of the Rochester Flag Project

One week notice for round No. 1 of the Rochester Flag Project

Well, here we are in August. How does this happen every year?  And no, it does not mean ‘summer’s over.’ Not yet. No, no no!

What it does mean is that you still have about a month of long days and warm nights left (Except the day of the eclipse!). It also means that in a week, Friday, August 18th to be exact, Round 1 entries for the Rochester Flag Project are due at 5 p.m. Your entry can be mailed in to Herold Flags (address below), hand delivered, or emailed to You can just send an image file in an email, by the way, you don’t have to use this official order form unless you are drawing directly on it.

If you don’t yet have a design, now’s the time to get those creative ideas flowing. Summer is a tough time to get to people, everyone is traveling and generally checked out. But it is a great time to think outside the box. Round 1 has sort of been for fun. The Flag Project went to fairs and festivals and online to spread the word about the contest. For the most part, we found that Rochester citizens are aware, they just aren’t sure what to submit. But we have gotten a few, perhaps these will inspire you.  

If you don’t have your ideas together for Round 1, no worries. The judges will deliberate and there will be citizen online voting starting September 1st or so. Those two votes will result in 6 winners, 3 from the public vote, 3 from the judges’ vote. Prizes will be awarded and then these entries will then go on to the second round from October 16th to November 17th. That second round will also result in 6 winners and prizes. A final review by the judges of all entries will take place around the holidays. The goal is to present the winning design to City Council in early 2018, with adoption by spring of 2018.

Anyone can enter, and we have designs from as far away as Japan, Canada and Australia. The eight volunteer Flag Project judges are from Olmsted County, however. After much discussion it was determined this was the best way to keep things local yet open the contest up to everyone who has spent time in diverse and international Rochester.

We’ve put some of the designs on Instagram, but not all. We did get quite a few submissions after the Olmsted County Fair. Most are up on the Project website as well, We will continue to add designs this week.

Sponsors to date include: Davies Printing, Fagan Studios, Herold Flags and Flagpoles, Naura Anderson Design, and Red Dogwood Garden Design. Thanks to all of our local news outlets like KSMQ, KIMT, the Post Bulletin, and of course the Med City Beat. You can find entry forms at our project host the Rochester Art Center, and at other community partners like the History Center and Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester. You can also find them at the Library and Quarry Hill Nature Center. We will keep a lookbook for your review at the Art Center as well, with the numbered entries and their descriptions if we have them.

Time and talent are always needed for community-wide projects like this. Thanks to the many volunteer hours that have gotten us this far, including those given by our judges Melissa Amundsen, Emily Carson, Wasima Kausar, Judy McGilvin, Jessica Schmitt, Becca Stiles-Nogosek, Terry Throndsen, and Bill Wiktor. E. Christine Schultze as spent hours facilitating things as well. Shawn and Michelle Fagan and Naura Anderson are diehard flag fans. Lee Herold is of course an unending source of flag knowledge. Michael Wojcik and Cesar Sandoval talked flags ceaselessly at the County Fair.   

How to help? If you would like to host an entry form kiosk at your business, let us know. Additional sponsors will help with printing costs and to increase prize money. If you like to give presentations, we will have some of those for the fall. When we have a final design, City Council has to officially adopt it. Talk to your representatives and the Mayor to encourage them to adopt the flag once it has been chosen. ‘Flag Labs’ at local nonprofits have been a lot of fun too; if you like teaching kids, this might be an activity for you. Designers can help clean up entries. Contact us at if you’d like to get involved.  

There is a ton of flag lore and inspiration online, and thousands of flags. This latest flag movement all started in the past few years with Roman Mars and his TED talk about city flags. If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth a look.

Rochester is just one of many cities looking to update its flag into a current symbol that unifies and uplifts. For example, our neighbor Milwaukee just completed its ‘People’s Flag’ contest of over 1000 entries. Its wonderful new flag is ready for official adoption by the city:

If you are still feeling ‘designer’s block,’ there are many flag apps and websites, including and, to name just two. My 10-year-old has discovered the ‘country ball’ universe, in which balls with flag designs interact (sometimes sarcastically) in a cartoon environment. Resident flag expert Lee Herold is available for advice at his shop, too. Flags are everywhere once you start thinking about them!  The best way to start kids off at our Flag Labs is to ask them what story their flag is telling, and then to let the work flow from that story.

This is good advice for adults, too. But the important thing to know is that there are no wrong answers or incorrect designs. Anyone can enter and all ideas add to the creative mix to get the best flag for Rochester. 

Anastasia Folpe is the manager of the Rochester Flag Project.

Cover: Submission to contest

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