Celebration of Idaho's 100th year officially ended Dec. 31, but officials around the state smile knowingly when they say, "Good bye, Centennial."
As in "good buy."From license plates to T-shirts to coffee mugs, the red, white and blue Centennial logo seemed to appear everywhere - and sales and licensing of items with the logo raised millions of dollars and paid for most of the events celebrating 100 years of statehood.
The Centennial plates were the major source of income, generating $3.3 million since their introduction in 1987, officials said.
All of the money went to the Idaho Centennial Commission, which returned about 15 percent, or $500,000, to the counties to fund their own Centennial projects.
Less than $400,000 of the commission's $7 million budget came from the state general fund.
Commission spokesman Rick Ardinger said, "It's remarkable that Idaho, with such a small population, was able to pay for a celebration like this without much taxpayer money."
Besides license plates, money poured in for sales of key chains, hats, belt buckles, ashtrays and dozens of other products - even squirrel food - bearing the Centennial symbol. Another $300,000 was raised selling silver commemorative coins, officials said.
News of Idaho's success is getting around.
"We've been getting phone calls," Ardinger said. "A number of eastern states are getting ready to celebrate their bicentennials, and there are a couple of sesquicentennials (150 years) coming up, too. Vermont, Tennessee, Iowa - these states want to know how we raised all this money."
Besides sharing revenue from the sale of license plates, the commission gave counties a series of full-color Idaho posters to sell, using all the profits for local projects. Counties also came up with their own fund-raising ideas.
Nez Perce County sold more than $40,000 worth of Lewiston T-shirts and sweatshirts. When sales lagged, Sharrol St. Marie, the county's Centennial coordinator, convinced businesses and government offices to adopt the shirts as their "Friday uniform." Soon, a rainbow of Lewiston shirts could be seen around town on Fridays.
"We sold shirts all over the world," St. Marie said. "And we had people wearing the shirts who ran into each other in Arizona."
St. Marie said she is proudest of the bronze tiles circling the Sacajawea Fountain in the city's Pioneer Park. For $100 per tile, donors had their names imprinted on a tile or honored others with a permanent memorial, with the money being used to refurbish the fountain.
About $50,000 was raised for the restoration - twice what was needed. So $20,000 will buy new playground equipment and the balance was placed in a maintenance fund for the fountain.
Meanwhile, sales of the license plates continue at $25 each and the plate will become the official license in 1992, when the standard green and white "Famous Potato" plates are retired.
Instead of the "Idaho Centennial" slogan, the new plates will say "Scenic Idaho" and "Famous Potatoes" as well.