Facebook group rocks Winona County


Kristen Carrie

The “Winona County Rocks” Facebook group paints and hides rocks around Winona. People who find the rocks are encouraged to share the photo to the page and either keep or relocate the rock for someone else to find.

Kellen Brandt, Features Reporter

An unusual thing has been spreading joy around the town of Winona. While it seems odd, the town of Winona and the surrounding areas have taken a liking to painted rocks scattered about the city.

Starting a few years back, the “Winona County Rocks” Facebook page was started by Sunshine McKenzie. McKenzie had seen other cities do rock hunts and wanted to start one in Winona and the surrounding areas as well.   

“I decided not to leave it just in Winona because Winona itself is kind of little and I thought, well, you know, we’ve got Minnesota City and Goodview, and so I thought why not [Winona] County,” McKenzie said. “That way it gives people that are out of the city limits a chance”

In years past the rock hunt has not been as popular, but starting this year, the group grew in size and the activity grew in popularity as colorful rocks have been popping up all over town.

“The [Facebook] group has got over 1,000 people now, but I would say there’s maybe at this point in time, maybe a good 25 to 50 people that are actively involved,” McKenzie said.

The Facebook page is filled with people sharing images of rocks they found, posting hints or pictures to help people find the rocks, and people sharing fun stories about their experience with the rock hunt.

Many members of the community are involved and joining in on the fun. One community member, Elise Johnson, said they have been a part of the group for at least a year but just recently started painting rocks and participating more.

“I am now completely addicted,” Johnson said. “My favorite part is when you see a post where it has totally made a person’s day, simply because they found a painted rock.”

Painting and hiding rocks is more than just a fun game for some people.

Cardinal of Minnesota employee  Lydia Flanagan has clients who have benefitted from rock painting, hiding and finding.

“My client is nonverbal, and to watch her creativity and imagination speak through art while also engaging with her housemate who is excited to hide them and be active in the community is not only a win-win but is a priceless gift to us and the community,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan said her clients and coworkers have been painting rocks for about a year now and she has enjoyed seeing the difference the rock hunt has made for some of the people she works with.   

“My favorite part is how much joy it brings to the community,” Flanagan said. “The world can be tough, so if a simple painted rock can bring a smile to a person, that makes my heart flutter and is why we will continue to do it.”

Rock Hunt is fairly new to community members Rachel Baures and Katie Pehler-LeGere, the Winona Community.  Just joining in on the fun with their families, they have both had success in getting children outside and sparking their creativity.

“This activity seems to get people creating things and sharing new ideas, but it also gives parents and kids a chance to do something together, get outside and sharing pictures  has seemed to make some connections within the community,” Pehler-LeGere said.

Baures also enjoys the aspect of spending time outside and bringing the community together.

“I like that this group brings people together and gets people outside,” Baures said. “Our family has really gotten into it; we’ve painted and hid about 40 since my seven-year-old stumbled upon a painted rock. Kids finding rocks are just adorable.”

Community member Kristi Bedor has spread the fun and the rocks far from the Winona County Rocks page with her family.

“We were going on a vacation and my kids and I hid 50 rocks all over along the way,” Bedor said. “Three people found our rocks and shared on Winona County Rocks, one of the rocks made it to Italy.”

Winona County may be small, but it is making a big, colorful impact beyond the county’s limits.