Sheldon is probably the boldest community in N’West Iowa when it comes to naming things.
Our high school mascot is the Orab — called the worst mascot name ever by the Des Moines Register — and guess what? The community embraces it and you see plenty of people around town sporting the orange and black with pride.
Any current or former Sheldon student will tell you what being an Orab means to them, but I like an answer Troy Enger Jr. gave in the Sept. 11 issue of The Sheldon Mail-Sun: “To be a beast and show respect.”
The interesting naming patterns aren’t limited to the school either, something I previously ranted about in great detail.
Sheldon also has an interesting history when it comes to the town nicknames/mottos/slogans. I doubt that I’ve tracked them all down, but I’m going to power rank the six I’m aware of. If you know of some others, please send them to me because I am compiling a list!
Starting from worst to best, let’s rank Sheldon slogans:
Sheldon: A Really Nice Place: This remains an atrocity and I can’t believe people actually agreed to go with this. Not only that, but there was an ad campaign and a jingle to go along with it. When I tell new people I live in Sheldon, they immediately bring up this motto and I cringe.
Sheldon, Iowa, An Opportunity: Not great but still better than Sheldon: A Really Nice Place. If I could travel back in time, instead of changing history, I would just watch the meeting in which "a really nice place" was conceived of and later approved.
Marigold City: I remember reading this one in a community guide given to me after I interviewed in Sheldon during my first tenure here and I thought, “Oh, that’s neat. Where are the marigolds?” I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a marigold here.
Prairie Queen City: If we still had the Prairie Queen Mill — one of Sheldon’s historic industries — this nickname would be elite! The original Prairie Queen opened in 1879 and the milling industry operated in town until about 1927, according to the Sheldon Area Centennial book.
Sheldon: The City Where Families Come First: The city of Sheldon’s current nickname and, with the exception of Prairie Queen City, it is leaps and bounds better than any of the old nicknames.
You know how people — I’m people, by the way — get excited when characters say the name of the movie they are in during the film? That’s how I feel when people drop this nickname when I’m interviewing them.
I also consider this one of the best slogans in N'West Iowa.
Northwest Iowa’s Commercial and Agricultural Capital: I was not aware of this nickname until yesterday (Tuesday, Dec. 3) when I spotted it in the centennial book and I must say it is phenomenal.
Currently, Sheldon is the third-biggest city by population in N’West Iowa — Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties for all the people who don't realize N'West Iowa is how our company has described this region for the last few decades— trailing Sioux Center and Orange City, respectively.
However, at the time of the centennial book’s publishing — presumably 1972 — Sheldon was actually the biggest city in N’West Iowa!
In fact, Sheldon had a 1,000 more residents than Sioux Center and Orange City, which each had a rough population of 3,500 at the time, according to the State Data Center of Iowa.
So for Sheldon to dub itself Northwest Iowa’s Commercial and Agricultural Capital, this was a major flex!