Flags and banners bring color to the downtown

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American and British flags from the 1800s and banners once created for a local art contest fly in downtown Prairie du Chien to add some color and additional interest to the area.

By Correne Martin

Visitors to downtown Prairie du Chien recently may have noticed some additions on the light poles overhead. American and British flags from yesteryear fly on one side of many of the poles, while banners of various artwork are afixed to the other side of the poles as well.

The flags, according to local historian Mary Antoine, represent those that flew over Ft. Crawford (American) and Ft. McKay (British) during the War of 1812. The ones displayed downtown currently were leftover from when Prairie du Chien celebrated the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812, she said.

The banners, which were originally created as part of a local art contest sponsored by the former PDRI, were located collecting dust in storage by Chris Mara, past president of PdC Main Street, and Mike Ulrich, parks and recreation director.

“I didn’t even know they existed but I got a call from one of the people who had made artwork for one of the posters wondering what ever happened to them,” Mara explained. “Last year, we put up a few of those that had won the contest and that piqued this person’s interest enough to ask about the others that she knew were around somewhere. They were promised to be displayed or given back but they disappeared. So we went digging and found them all.”

Many of the banners have something to do with Prairie du Chien history, people or culture, but some do not. There are about 60 to 70 in total and have business advertisements on the back side, as those were the original sponsors of the banner costs.

“We plan to have them up one more year and then we are going to have to make some decisions,” Mara added. “In the future, my feeling is that that maybe we could do another contest to get some more banners or to have banners made that all follow one theme, in order to see some consistency downtown.”

Mara pointed out that the city is soon going to be looking at making a capital investment into a branding process for the city and its supporting partners, such as PdC Main Street. This may be where banners or other downtown decor may come into play.

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