Utah leaders select new design to challenge current state flag in 2023

Utah leaders select new design to challenge current state flag in 2023

Members of the Utah State Flag Task Force hold T-shirts with a new state flag design after voting to approve the design on Thursday. The Utah Legislature will vote on adopting the state flag design as early as January 2023. (Aubrey Shafer, KSL-TV)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox says he had an idea of what Utah’s next state flag would look like when he agreed to join state lawmakers in redesigning the current flag, which has remained mostly untouched since 1913 aside from some minor alterations.

But what he envisioned at the start of the journey, which officially began last year, isn’t at all the flag that he and other members of the Utah State Flag Task Force are now proposing to the state lawmakers — and he’s fine with that.

“It’s impossible for 3.3 million of us to get the flag that we want,” he said, staring at a design on a screen before him. “It’s about us coming together and finding the very best of each of us. And as you built that one symbol, one color at a time, it all just makes sense.”

Members of the task force voted unanimously Thursday to select a flag design to move forward to the Utah Legislature for a vote in January 2023. Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, who sponsored the bill that created the task force, said a new bill is currently being drafted to codify the flag change. He is scheduled to present the task force’s case to the Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee next week.

The design features white mountains on a blue backdrop over red rock canyons, as well as a beehive and an eight-sided star inside a hexagon. Designers explained Thursday that all of the colors and symbols have meaning tied back to the state.

  • Blue represents the state’s traditions, such as its lakes and dark skies.
  • The white band represents Utah’s mountain landscapes. The color can also represent peace.
  • The red represents the red rocks of southern Utah. The color also represents perseverance. The design committee chose red over orange for this component of the flag.
  • The beehive represents community and Utah’s state slogan of “industry.”
  • The eight-pointed golden star represents hope and the state’s eight sovereign Tribal Nations. The placement of the star appears in the doorway of the beehive, which is meant to symbolize the Tribal foundation of the state.
  • The gold hexagon around the beehive and star rim represents strength and unity.

“This is a very exciting day,” said David Wicai, director of strategic initiatives at the Utah Department of Cultural and Community Engagement. “It has seemed like a long process but worthwhile.”

Thursday’s decision comes after the flag task force and design review committee narrowed a pool that started with 5,703 original designs, a process that began at the start of the year. Utah officials reviewed the designs and narrowed the field to 20 semifinalists, which were revealed in September.

The final public comment period received more than 44,000 public comments, Wicai said. The task force narrowed the submissions down to five finalists.

This story will be updated.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning reporter who covers general news, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a Utah transplant by the way of Rochester, New York.

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