Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

And the winning snowplow names in Minnesota are… February 10, 2023

Source: Minnesota Department of Transportation Facebook page

SORRY, TAYLOR SWIFT, but you just missed getting a version of your name printed on a snowplow in Minnesota. That’s according to results of the 2022-23 Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Name a Snowplow Contest. “Taylor Drift” came in at number nine, right behind “Sleetwood Mac,” a tribute to Fleetwood Mac, a band especially popular in the 70s and 80s. With only a 476-vote difference, I suppose Swift could call for a recount.

Topping the winners’ list is “Yer a Blizzard, Harry,” a reference to Harry Potter. The name will go on a MnDOT snowplow assigned to southwest Minnesota.

Placing second is “Blizzo,” an obvious reference to superstar singer Lizzo, who lived in Minneapolis when launching her career. “Blizzo” will, rightfully so, grace an orange snowplow truck in the Twin Cities metro.

This contest, in its third year, has become quite a hit in Minnesota with 10,400-plus names submitted, then narrowed to 60 before polls opened to online voting. Suggestions that made the ballot were chosen based on uniqueness, Minnesota-specificity and frequency of submission. Some 64,000 people voted, able to select up to eight names. The top eight names will be emblazoned on eight plows in MnDOT’s eight districts.

“Scoop! There It Is” is going on a truck in my district of southeast Minnesota.

I was happy to see “Blader Tot Hotdish” coming in at number six. That was my personal favorite, a reference to Minnesota’s iconic Tater Tot Hotdish (aka “casserole” in other regions of the country). I’ll need to travel all the way to northwest Minnesota to see that moniker on a truck.

Minnesota is not the first cold weather place to have a little winter fun with snowplow tagging. Scotland apparently started this trend in 2006 seeking names for its “gritters,” as the plows are called. The Michigan Department of Transportation, the State of Vermont Agency of Transportation, and the cities of Indianapolis and Lafayette (where my son lives), Indiana, also hold snowplow naming competitions.

With winters as long as they are in places like Minnesota, I embrace the distraction of naming snowplows. When Taylor Swift rolls into Minneapolis for her sold-out concerts in late June, all the snow drifts should be gone. She’ll rank number one among fans packing U.S. Bank Stadium, fans who have likely long forgotten that “Taylor Drift” just missed going on a Minnesota road tour.

FYI: For a complete, detailed list of voting results in the MnDOT Name a Snowplow Contest, click here.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling