Sidewalk Poetry

Rules for the competition

Selection process

A jury of civic leaders and literary experts select, through a blind judging process, up to ten poems each year for imprint in the city’s sidewalks.


In December, the poems will be published online and the winners announced.  Beginning in May, as soon as weather permits, poems are installed in sidewalks throughout the community. 

Celebratory event

A celebratory Capstone Event for the Spanish poems will be held in 2021.

Previous winners

Winning poems can be found in more than 260 locations throughout the historical downtown area, along safe pathways to schools and in residential neighborhoods.

2020 Winning Spanish Poems

2020 Winning Poems

2019 Winning Poems

2018 Winning Poems

2017 Winning Poems

2016 Winning Poems

2011-2015 Winning Poems

Documentary film on the process

In 2013, well-known local documentary film maker, Paul Krause, filmed the process from judging, through the installations of the poems, including interviews with winners, to the final celebratory event held in downtown Bridge Square.

Watch Paul Krause’s documentary

Location of poems

Interactive map

The interactive map shows all the locations of all the poems was begun. It is updated as new poems are installed.

Printed brochure (2012) (PDF) identifies the locations of the poems in the downtown area.

Want a poem stamped on your property?

As a bonus for Northfield residents, anyone wishing to have a poem installed on their own property, the installation stamps of the winning poems are available for use with a damage deposit. Interested persons should contact the Public Works Department at 507-645-3020 for information about using a stamp on private property.

Sidewalk Poetry Reservation Form

History and support

The Arts and Culture Commission launched the Sidewalk Poetry Project in 2011 with support from the Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library, the Streetscape Task Force and the Northfield City Council. Since 2012, the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council has provided grants for the project thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund made possible by the voters of Minnesota. Additional funding has come from the City, The Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library, Northfield Shares, local businesses and individual donations.

First poem imprinted was located on the Third Street hill, south of the Library.

Sidewalk poetry 1.jpg

Northfield's sidewalk poetry contest logo.

Make Your Mark text

Minnesota Legacy Amendment