Creating a Chalk Festival

A few months ago I heard about a chalk festival in Salt Lake City. It was a big public event where folks were invited to create chalk art on the various pavements of downtown. I loved the idea of it, but attending simply didn’t fit into my schedule. Rather than live with regret, I determined that one day this summer I would buy a bunch of chalk and declare my very own chalk festival for the kids. I mentioned this plan to my next door neighbor (a good idea since children with chalk are not particularly discriminating about whose pavement upon which they draw) and she loved the idea too. We decided to host the event jointly and spread the word among neighbors and friends. Fitting it right at the end of the Fourth of July celebrations, when everyone was feeling festive, seemed like an excellent choice.

Really, this is all you need for a chalk festival. Chalk and pavement are mandatory. The cup of water is optional, but very useful for blending colors. I just ran to Walmart that morning and grabbed half a dozen boxes of chalk. I tried to find boxes that had a variety of colors, particularly bright colors. I made sure that there were duplicates. I figured it was better to have 5 each of 10 colors than to have 50 colors with all the kids fighting over the one color that everyone decided they couldn’t live without.

When the appointed hour arrived, I dumped all the chalk out of the boxes so they were loose for kids to grab. At first we attempted to partition one square per person, but that quickly became unnecessary. Everyone was having too much fun to argue and it was more fun to let the drawings flow around each other organically. We kept acquiring people as neighbors came by invitation or just wandered by.

The artwork came in all varieties and each had its own beauty.

One of the truly wonderful things about chalk art is that it is all-ages friendly. The smallest people could participate just as easily as the older ones.

I loved hearing the chatter as kids excitedly proclaimed about their dragon, or flower, or princess, or design. The adults chatted as well. The activity sparked conversations and gave all of us an excuse to be outdoors. It helped that the weather cooperated by cooling down with an overcast sky. The air temperature was perfect and the sidewalks were pleasantly warm without being too hot. We planned it in the evening on purpose to help make that possible.

Howard came out and joined the fun. At first he said he would only observe since he’d been drawing stuff all day, but finally sketched out a Schlock when the neighbors claimed the festival couldn’t be complete without it.

The cups of water were for painting on the chalk after it was drawn on the pavement or for dipping the chalk before drawing to help it spread more evenly. We used our fingers to wet the chalk and blend it. Next time I’ll find some sturdy craft paintbrushes to use as well.

Blending the colors with water created some fun results.

After and hour or so, most of the kids had moved on to playing tag and we broke out the ice cream bars. This gave everyone snacks as the surveyed the completed artwork. Being the Fourth of July, we finished off with some fireworks in the street. The evening ended when the gray clouds burst open and began to rain. By morning the chalk drawings were gone. This was fine, it cleared the pavement for another round of artwork on a different day. Chalk art is never meant to be permanent, which is why it is a wonderful medium for those who think they aren’t artistic to learn that they can be. Most of the adults started out by saying that they weren’t good at drawing, but every single one who picked up chalk drew something worth admiring.

We’ll be doing this again sometime. It was too fun to be a singular event.