Chalk the Walk May 4 and 5

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 14th annual Chalk the Walk, Iowa’s largest-ever Madonnari Festival. The two-day festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, 2019, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

This year’s event will feature the work of hundreds of artists utilizing a downtown city street as a canvas and more than a half-ton of chalk. Last year’s 1st Place Winners, Craig and Jamie Rogers, will return to the event as the 2019 featured artists. Outdoor food vendors and musicians will be on hand throughout both days of the event.

More than $1,675 in cash prizes will be awarded to chalk artists this year, with a formal check presentation ceremony to take place Sunday afternoon, May 5.

Chalk the Walk’s 2019 large collaborative piece of chalk art is a 34’ x 46’ recreation of Ukrainian artist Veronika Demenko’s colorful piece titled “Woodstock.”

“The committee chose Demenko’s piece to correspond with the 50th anniversary of Woodstock,” said Danielle Chargo, Chair of the Chalk the Walk committee. “It was important to us that we pick a piece that is both colorful and family friendly. Demenko’s piece seemed perfect for the Chalk the Walk format. We are hoping that families across Iowa will embrace their inner hippie and join us this year to celebrate Woodstock in Chalk.”

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 “Woodstock” image. When finished, a recreation of “Woodstock” 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 facilitate a “best-looking hippie costume contest” at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. each day. Both children and adults will be asked to sign up for their chance to win Community Cash gift certificates.

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.”

Find a volunteer application here:


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.


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