Taylor Drift and Clark W. Blizzwald take top honors in Minnesota snowplow-naming contest

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

RICHFIELD, Minn. (AP) — Travelers in northwestern Minnesota can shake off their trepidation about hitting the winter roads knowing Taylor Drift is clearing a path ahead of them.

The snowplow named for Taylor Swift was the runaway winner of Minnesota’s fourth annual Name a Snowplow contest, with eight new names announced Tuesday. Taylor Drift received 12,027 votes, nearly twice as many as the second-place finisher, Clark W. Blizzwald — honoring the star character of “National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.”

In order of votes received, the other winners out of 49 finalists were Dolly Plowton, Waipahinte — a Dakota word for “snowplow” — Beyonsleigh, You’re Killin’ Me Squalls, Fast and Flurrious, and Barbie’s Dream Plow.

“Minnesotans vote in huge numbers for these," Gov. Tim Walz said at a news conference. "Thousands and thousands of Minnesotans come up with incredible creativity.” The governor stood beside an orange-painted plow with a sticker bearing its new name, Barbie's Dream Plow.

Walz thanked the state’s snowplow drivers for braving dangerous conditions, working 12-hour shifts and clearing 200 miles (322 kilometers) or more at a time.

The eight winning names were assigned to snowplows in different districts, with Taylor Drift going to one in northwest Minnesota and Barbie's Dream Plow going to another in the Twin Cities metro.

The often-icy state began naming its roughly 800 plows in 2020. More than three dozen names already grace trucks scraping snow off Minnesota highways.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation started the contest as a way to cheer people up during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Anne Meyer, a spokesperson for the agency.

“We have a lot of fun with this contest each year, but I also hope in its own way it increases the security and safety of the men and women who operate our snowplows,” Meyer said.

Meyer urged people to slow down and keep a good distance from snowplow drivers. About 100 snowplows get hit each winter season in Minnesota, she said. The Name a Snowplow contest is a way to personalize both the massive trucks and the people who drive them.

Waipahinte is the first Dakota name applied to a snowplow by popular vote.

Outside the contest, employees of the state's Department of Transportation gave three snowplows a Dakota name — Icamna-Blizzard — and Ojibwe names — Giiwedin-The North Wind and Goonodaabaan-Snow Vehicle — in previous years to acknowledge the highways the state plows adjacent to tribal lands.

With over 50,000 snowplow name submissions since 2020, the response in Minnesota has prompted states and cities across the country to hold similar contests to name snowplows, including Alaska, California, Ohio and Massachusetts.

Previous winners over the years in Minnesota include Plowy McPlowFace, Darth Blader, Blizzard of Oz, Scoop Dogg and Han Snolo.

___

Trisha Ahmed is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @TrishaAhmed15