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What are the official colors of the state of Kentucky?

The official state colors of Kentucky are blue and gold. These colors were officially adopted in 1962 to represent the Bluegrass State. Blue and gold were chosen because they have strong connections to Kentucky’s history, culture, and natural features.

The History of Kentucky’s State Colors

The use of blue and gold to represent Kentucky dates back to the late 18th century. In 1792, Kentucky was admitted as the 15th state to join the United States of America. At this time, Kentucky did not have official state colors or symbols. However, many early Kentuckians began using the colors blue and gold in various ways as a way to show pride for their new state.

Blue and gold were seen as natural color choices to represent Kentucky for several reasons:

  • Blue – This color was chosen because Kentucky has many waterways that have blue-colored water, such as the Kentucky River. The word “Kentucky” comes from a Native American term that means “land of tomorrow” or “meadow land”, evoking the image of Kentucky’s bluegrass covered meadows and fields.
  • Gold – This color was selected because Kentucky was known historically for its rich natural resources like coal and gold. The gold color echoed the state’s connection to valuable minerals and metals.

Throughout the 1800s, many flags, banners, and symbols using blue and gold emerged across Kentucky. For example, in 1866 the University of Kentucky adopted blue and white as its official colors, incorporating blue. However, gold and blue were not yet formally declared the state’s official colors.

Blue and Gold Become Official in 1962

It was not until 1962 that the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation to officially designate blue and gold as the state colors. This formal recognition came about during the state’s Civil War centennial celebrations. As Kentuckians looked back on their history 100 years after the Civil War, state leaders wanted to finally establish official symbols to represent Kentucky.

On March 16, 1962, House Bill #168 was signed into law, which stated:

“The colors blue and gold are adopted as the official state colors for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

During the bill signing ceremony, Kentucky Governor Bert T. Combs remarked:

“These great colors…seem to epitomize the beauty and spirit of our homeland.”

And with this simple proclamation, Kentucky’s two official state colors were enshrined into law after nearly two centuries of informal tradition.

Kentucky’s State Symbols and Emblems

The state colors are part of a larger collection of official state symbols and emblems that represent the state of Kentucky. Some of Kentucky’s other official state symbols include:

State Symbol Year Adopted
State bird – Northern Cardinal 1926
State flower – Goldenrod 1926
State tree – Tulip poplar 1956
State song – “My Old Kentucky Home” 1928

Kentucky also has an official state motto – “United we stand, divided we fall.” This motto underscores the importance of unity and togetherness to the state of Kentucky.

Uses of the Blue and Gold State Colors

Since their official adoption in 1962, the Kentucky state colors of blue and gold have become ubiquitous symbols of the state. Some examples of where you can spot Kentucky’s blue and gold include:

  • On the Kentucky state flag – A blue background with the state seal in gold in the center
  • On University of Kentucky sports team uniforms and gear
  • “Go Big Blue!” – The rallying cry for UK sports teams
  • The Kentucky Derby – Blue and gold ribbons are draped over winning horses
  • License plates – Kentucky license plates feature a blue background
  • State highway signs – These are often colored blue with gold lettering
  • Promotional materials for Kentucky tourism and products

Both residents and visitors alike can spot Kentucky’s blue and gold colors throughout the state. These colors are a badge of pride and connect all Kentuckians through their shared culture and heritage.

The Meaning Behind the Colors

Blue and gold were chosen intentionally to capture important aspects of Kentucky’s essence. The symbolic meaning behind each color is:


  • Kentucky’s rivers, streams, and bluegrass meadows
  • Peacefulness, dignity, freedom
  • Dependability, trustworthiness


  • Kentucky’s mineral resources and natural wealth
  • Warmth, prosperity
  • Optimism, confidence

Together, blue and gold complement one another. Blue evokes Kentucky’s natural beauty and history. Gold represents the state’s bright future and connection to its past. These colors perfectly encapsulate the spirit of Kentucky.

Other States with Blue and Gold Colors

Kentucky is not the only U.S. state to adopt blue and gold as official state colors. Six other states also have blue and gold as state colors:

  • New Jersey – Adopted in 1965
  • Pennsylvania – Adopted in 1987
  • Rhode Island – Adopted in 2013
  • Idaho – Adopted in 1957
  • Minnesota – Adopted in 1983
  • Alaska – Adopted in 1968

However, Kentucky was the first state to have blue and gold as official state colors. And in Kentucky, the use and meaning behind these colors has a long and rich history.


In summary, blue and gold were adopted as the official state colors of Kentucky in 1962. However, these colors had been used to represent the state unofficially since Kentucky first joined the United States in 1792. Blue and gold reflect important natural features in Kentucky like its bluegrass and minerals. Over the years, these iconic colors have come to symbolize the spirit of Kentucky and its citizens. The blue and gold state colors are an instantly recognizable symbol of Kentucky pride.