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A Love Affair with License Plates

Plates Chosen from 300 Entries To Celebrate Colorado’s 150th Anniversary

Colorado is turning 150 years old in 2026. To celebrate, the state hosted The Great License Design Contest, a competition to design commemorative license plates in two divisions: Under 13 and Over 13. The assignment was to showcase Colorado in an interesting and historical way that honors its statehood.

The Inspiration

The competition was inspired by the contest in 2020 to design the Iconic Credential, the state’s driver's license or I.D. card “that’s as beautiful as the Centennial State,” says Chris Hochmuth, administrative resource and inventory manager, Vehicle Services Section at Colorado’s DMV. More than 55,000 Coloradans voted for photographs by Matt Nunez (front side) and Gabriel Dupon (back side) among 400 submissions by almost 120 entrants.

“The driver's license contest served as a template for the 150th anniversary commemoration,” Hochmuth says. “We saw it as a great opportunity to get kids under 13 involved, too.”

Top Designs

The license plate competition was promoted on social media. More than 300 entries from 216 entrants were submitted. Three finalists per division were selected by a committee that included motor vehicle administrators and Gov. Jared Polis; 34,000 Coloradans voted on the top three designs. The two winners were awarded $1,000 grants, commemorative license plates and were recognized at the State Capitol.

“The Historic Colorado Contest was a low-cost effort to honor Colorado’s history and celebrate the 150th anniversary with a commemorative license plate,” says Hochmuth. “The enthusiasm was amazing, and participation was far beyond what we expected.”

Evan Griesheimer of Denver won the 13+ category, citing the simplicity and colors of the Colorado state flag, the Rocky Mountains and mining as his inspiration.

Ten-year-old Calista Blaschke, also of Denver, drew inspiration for her design from Pikes Peak, fortune hunters, the state bird (lark bunting) and the state tree (blue spruce).

Unprecedented Demand

Coloradans have a love affair with license plates, which currently clock in at more than 200 different designs. For reference, tiny Maryland has 989 designs. Hawaii has just 14.

But these two Colorado sesquicentennial plates are quite special. As of December, (4-1/2 months after the initial issue), nearly 12,000 plates in the "Under 13" category had been issued — the fastest-selling license plate in Colorado history — while 5,600+ had been issued in the "Over 13" category. The unprecedented demand suggests they could soon become the state’s new favorite choice for celebrating its storied past.

“It usually takes four to five years to reach these numbers,” says Hochmuth. “We’re thrilled at the response.”

Purchase either license plate online or at a county-operated motor vehicle office for $8.06 per pair, in addition to local fees, through July 2027.

Website: https://dmv.colorado.gov/license-plates
Facebook + Instagram: @ColoradoDMV

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