Sculpture contest may cap city’s branding effort

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

City officials are toying with the idea of launching a sculpture competition as the grand finale to Elk River’s Powered by Nature branding effort.

Elk River's Powered by Nature brand.
Elk River’s Powered by Nature brand.

The Elk River Economic Development Authority showed interest in the idea at a meeting earlier this month, but has not yet given the go-ahead to proceed. Rather, the EDA asked the city staff to flesh out the specifics and report back in July.

“It sounds like an interesting concept. It’s just some details to work out,” said City Council Member Matt Westgaard, who also serves on the EDA.

The city staff had recommended the EDA sponsor the Powered by Nature sculpture competition. Specifically, the staff recommended a design competition for a solar-powered clock, fountain, tree or sculpture that promotes the Powered by Nature concept and the city, with the winning entry being placed outdoors on city property.

A panel would judge the entries, with the city retaining the right to reject all proposals.

The city’s branding effort dates back to 2011, when a consultant developed the Powered by Nature brand. The brand is now visible everywhere from the Freeport Avenue water tower to city logowear.

Along the way, a brand steering committee brainstormed ideas to promote the brand plan on a more permanent and larger scale and came up with ideas like the solar-powered clock, a solar tree, a fountain and a sculpture.

Though not part of the proposed sculpture contest, other ideas the committee considered ranged from banners on light poles to Powered by Nature-themed bike racks to elk hoof prints leading through trails to elk art scattered around town, like St. Paul’s Snoopys.

There even was a suggestion for a giant elk in the river that would be more visible when the water levels go down and another for a lighted UFO on the top of the Granite Shores building or at a city entrance — a nod to the UFO sightings that once swept through Elk River.

“Some of the ideas are sort of out there, but they are ideas,” Brian Beeman, the city’s economic development director, told the EDA.