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semifinalist flags hang in Utah capitol building.

State Flag Public Comments Close: What’s Next?

Public comments on Utah’s flag semifinalists closed Wednesday, and the response was overwhelming. But the flag’s task force is saying they may have more refinements.

“We are extremely pleased with the public response,” David Wicai, director of strategic initiatives at the Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement, said. “It seems that Utahns are pretty invested in selecting our next state flag and providing their feedback on what will work and what will represent Utah best.”

So, now that the flags have over 35,000 comments from all over Utah, what’s the next step?

When Will the New Flag Be Official?

The next thing to do is to revise the semifinalist designs into something that reflects the majority of feedback. This means that Utah’s new state flag won’t look exactly like any one of the semifinalists.

The official vote was going to go to the Utah legislature this November, but it is now looking as though it will be postponed, Jill Love, executive director at the Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement, said.

Instead, the official vote will happen in January.

What the Symbolism Means

Leading designs for the flag on Wednesday mostly included mountains, a beehive, some representation of Southern Utah, and stars for the tribal nations. Blues, oranges and reds were popular background colors.

These were the top five results for Utah’s new flag as per public comments Wednesday. Courtesy ksl.

All the symbolism here represents Utah in some way. And everything on the flag has to mean something.

Blue hues, which are present in all of the top five designs, represent knowledge, freedom, justice, optimism, sky and lakes.

White represents peace, truth, snow, salt and mountains.

Oranges and reds represent red rocks and Southern Utah, along with strength, perseverance and a nod to the US flag.

The shapes and designs also have some important symbolism that the task force must keep in mind:

The beehive signals community, cooperation and industry.

The eight stars — or the eight pointed star — represent the eight tribal nations in Utah. Tribal leaders tended to prefer the eight stars over the eight pointed star, as the multiple stars felt more equally-weighted with the beehive.

The circle, present in many top designs, means unity.

Possible Modifications

Designers have already started making some changes to the flag designs based on the feedback.

Many people felt that the eight-pointed star representing the tribal nations did not belong below the beehive. Most likely, the design will be modified to put the stars in the sky, or somehow put them on more equal ground.

The final designs probably will not include the “Crossroads of the West” theme that was present in some semifinalists. Utahns who took the survey also did not prefer one design featuring the Delicate Arch because it did not represent the entire state quite as well. And the sego lily seemed too similar to Salt Lake City’s flag.

The process may be longer than expected, but it’s better that it is done thoroughly. 

Governor Cox emphasized the importance of all the moving parts in this process, and added that it isn’t meant to end the seal, the current flag, or the “history and heritage” of either.

The Byway

Feature image caption: The Utah flag semifinalists hang in the capitol building in Salt Lake City. Courtesy ksl.