Chalk the Walk May 6, 7

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 12th annual Chalk the Walk, Iowa’s largest-ever Madonnari Festival. The two-day festival will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 6 and 7, 2017, 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, Tyler Roos and his daughter Alexa, 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 7.

“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’s large collaborative piece of chalk art is a 36’ x46’ recreation of Rockwell’s famous Sept. 4, 1948, Saturday Evening Post cover that prominently features the Chicago Cubs. We thought that this would be the perfect way to celebrate our World Series champions.”

Norman Rockwell’s “Dugout” will be the centerpiece of the 2017 Chalk the Walk Festival in Mount Vernon, May 6 and 7.

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


Music throughout the two-day festival will include performances by Kevin “BF” Burt, Harmony Abigail, Sydney & Jason Dams, Claddagh Irish Trio, Two Bit Maniac, Mitch McAndrew, James Kennedy and Friends and many others.


Washington Elementary students will be displaying their own Saturday Evening Post covers and self-portrait baseball cards in the windows of Mount Vernon City Hall, and just outside City Hall will be a giant step-in baseball card that festival-goers can create their own life-sized baseball card photo.

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.”

Volunteers are still needed for the event. A volunteer form is available here:

Note: “Dugout” community image courtesy of Curtis Licensing, a division of The Saturday Evening Post Society, Inc.

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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