Chalk the Walk is this weekend!

The City of Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon Parks and Recreation, the Mount Vernon Area Arts Council and the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG) have announced the 13th annual Chalk the Walk, Iowa’s largest-ever Madonnari Festival. The two-day festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6, 2018, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

This year’s event will feature the work of more than 500 artists utilizing a downtown city street as a canvas and more than a half-ton of chalk. Last year’s 1st Place Winner Bryce Cox will return to the event as this year’s featured artist. More than $1,500 in cash prizes will be awarded to chalk artists this year, with a formal check presentation ceremony to take place Sunday afternoon, May 6.

“We are ready to kick off the summer festival season in Mount Vernon with our annual Chalk the Walk event,” said Danielle Chargo, Chair of the Chalk the Walk committee.

“This year we chose to work with the theme of Cinco de Mayo as our festival landed on May 5. We are asking everyone in Iowa to come spend Cinco de Mayo with Mount Vernon!”

Chalk the Walk’s 2018 large collaborative piece of chalk art is a 34’ x 44’ recreation of a piece by California artist Robert Rodriguez. Titled “Cinco de Mayo,” the image was originally designed by Rodriguez for the 1998 Cinco de Mayo stamp, which was issued jointly by the U.S. and Mexican Postal Service.  

Cinco De Mayo piece
This image by Robert Rodriguez will be the centerpiece of Chalk the Walk 2018 as Mount Vernon celebrates Cinco de Mayo!

For a $10 donation to the festival, any interested festival participant will be given a set of chalk sticks to create a single 2’ by 2’ square of a portion of the image.  When finished, a recreation of “Cinco de Mayo” will appear on Mount Vernon’s Main Street as a giant image. This centerpiece of Chalk the Walk will be colored with pastel chalk by dozens of artists of all ages and abilities.

In addition, volunteers will be on hand to offer piñata demonstrations at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. each day. Children 10 and younger will be asked to sign up for their chance to break the piñata and win candy and prizes.

Chalk the Walk is based on an original art form that began in Italy in the 16th century. Called Madonnari, this form of public art was originally done by street artists hoping to collect coins from passersby. Images back then were based on religious themes, and as the Madonna was a popular subject, the artists became known as the “Madonnari.”

About Mount Vernon

Historic Mount Vernon, Iowa, is home to 4500 residents, including 1200 college students enrolled at Cornell College. Located in Eastern Iowa at the intersection of Highways 30 and 1, 20 miles north of Iowa City and 15 miles east of Cedar Rapids, it boasts a vibrant uptown business community with numerous antique and specialty stores, restaurants, coffee houses, commercial art galleries, and three National Historic Districts.