As a graphic designer and longtime Hampstead resident, Laura Etter was thrilled when she learned that the town was holding a design contest for a logo to be flown over the town on special flags and banners throughout 2013.
Taking up the challenge, Etter took her artistic inspiration from Hampstead's history and its surroundings.
"When I think of Hampstead I immediately think of two things: the beautiful rolling farmland surrounding the town and also the historic train station. I thought it would be nice to combine both of these ideas into a cohesive, seal-like design," Etter said.
The contest was held between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31 last fall in order to obtain a design to commemorate the 125-year anniversary of the town's incorporation, according to Lorena Vaccare, administrative assistant for the town of Hampstead.
According to Mayor Chris Nevin, it was important to the town to have local volunteer artists involved in the process.
"We specifically did not want it to be an artist's rendering that we paid for. We wanted people to volunteer their efforts, celebrating our 125-year anniversary with a community spirit type project," Nevin said.
Artists submitting designs for the contest were asked to "reflect on Hampstead's history, lifestyle, natural resources, or other similar ideas," according to the town's rules for the contest.
Etter's design, an image of the Hampstead train station against a rolling green field, was one of eight designs submitted to the town during the course of the contest, according to Vaccare.
By the time of the annual Town Holiday Dinner in December - an event for the town employees as well as officials both appointed and elected - Mayor Nevin said the town was able to narrow the possible selections down to just two designs.
One of those designs was Etter's, and the other belonged to Kenny Ditto of Hampstead.
Ditto took his inspiration from Hampstead's downtown and the Maryland flag, producing a seal featuring the silhouettes' of Main Street buildings against a background with the black and gold checkered pattern of the state flag.
"To me, one of the strongest aspects of Hampstead is its Main Street atmosphere. Everything happens on Main Street; Hampstead Day, the Fireman's Carnival and Parade, and even a holiday light display. With a variety of historic buildings, Main Street also connects the past with the present," Ditto said.
According to Nevin, it quickly became apparent at the Town Holiday Dinner that they had a tie on their hands with the two designs.
"We put them up on a wall at the town dinner and then as we were having our social time I walked around and showed all the people what we were thinking. A number of people present said that they actually liked a combination of two of the designs," Nevin said.
Eventually it was decided that the best solution was to combine different aspects of each artist's design: use Ditto's background and take the central seal from Etter's design.
Ditto said that while he didn't have control over the final design, he is still proud to see his work displayed in his hometown.
"I'm still quite happy that a good portion of my original design made the final cut. It's quite gratifying to drive through downtown Hampstead and see the flag that I helped design, waving in the breeze," Ditto said.
Etter said she also liked the final design.
"I like how [Ditto's background design] activates the space around the seal and adds more areas of color to the flag/banner overall," Etter said.
The final winning design was officially unveiled at the Hampstead Town Council meeting on March 12 and will be flown on flags above Town Hall and the Main Street Veteran's Memorial, as well as on banners on poles along Main Street, throughout 2013 according to Nevin.
Hampstead residents may also purchase their own three by five foot commemorative flag for $93.90, according to Vaccare, and those interested should contact the town office at 410-239-7408.
According to Nevin, while there is no particular event planned to celebrate Hampstead's anniversary this year, there will be a celebratory theme to events such has Hampstead Day and the town has also created special lapel pins to distribute on such events.
"I will pass the pins out at the events that I attend. It's a small way of showing people our appreciation for helping the town and making Hampstead what it is today," Nevin said.