Chalk the Walk 2021

2006 ctw

Chalk the Walk 2021

2021 is the 16th anniversary of Iowa’s largest-ever Madonnari Festival, Chalk the Walk.  This event is on Saturday, May 1  and Sunday, May 2, 2021, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Join the fun at Chalk the Walk 2021!

This festival will follow safety guidelines, including social distancing.  Everyone attending will be asked to wear a mask, follow Mt Vernon mandates, and come prepared to have fun safely.

“This will be the first live festival in Mount Vernon in almost a year,” said Joe Jennison, Director of the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG). “And, as such, we are proceeding to plan a safe and socially distant event. We are asking everyone to follow City mandates, wear masks, and come prepared to have fun safely.”

RSVP for Chalk the Walk 2021 on Facebook

ctw 2020 winnerChalk the Walk will feature the work of hundreds of all ages and abilities! They will use over 1/2 ton of chalk with a downtown city street as their canvas. Cash prizes totaling more than $1,375 will be awarded to chalk artists during a formal check presentation ceremony on Sunday afternoon, May 2.  

Mary Campbell, last year’s 1st place winner, will return to the event as the 2021 featured artist.  Outdoor food vendors and musicians will be on hand throughout both days of the event.

  • A food vendor application is available here.
  • A volunteer application is available here. 
  • A sponsorship form is available here.

Collaborative Centerpiece

the scream

Each year a large collaborative piece of chalk art is recreated.  For a $10 donation to the festival, any interested festival participant will be given a set of chalk sticks and create a single 2’ by 2’ square of a portion of the image. This centerpiece of Chalk the Walk will be colored with pastel chalk by dozens of artists of all ages and abilities.  The 2021 large collaborative piece of chalk art is a recreation of The Scream by Edvard Munch. 

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.”

The area between City Hall and the old fire station is open and available for kids of all ages to practice their chalk art.  Food vendors and music add to the festival atmosphere.

“This is the 16th anniversary of Chalk the Walk,” said Matt Siders, Chair of the Chalk the Walk committee. “We have all had a seriously tough year, and the committee thought that Munch’s “The Scream” aptly characterized how we all feel. We are asking families to join us in masks, and we plan to add a mask to Munch’s piece as well. We are hoping that families will show up and let out their quarantine frustrations on a giant version of “The Scream” on Mount Vernon’s Main Street.”

This event is hosted by the City of Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon Parks and Recreation, the Mount Vernon Area Arts Council, and the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group.  Generous sponsors also help make this festival possible.

Information for Artists:

Chalk the Walk Featured Artist Bryce Cox May 2018

Again this year, thanks to generous support from the  City of Mount Vernon and the Mount Vernon Area Arts Council, many prizes will be awarded. One artist will receive a 1st place prize and will also be asked to return for the 2022 Chalk the Walk festival, where they will be given the opportunity to appear as the Featured Artist. There will also be other cash prizes awarded including the Artist’s and People’s Choice Awards!

  • There is no fee to take part as an artist. Artists need only provide talent and enthusiasm!
  • Artists will be allotted an 8’ x 10’ section of pavement.
  • Chalk pastels will be provided.
  • The Chalk the Walk committee will provide lunch vouchers that can be used at the temporary food vendor booths.
  • The Chalk the Walk committee will provide a qualified juror to award prizes.
  • Artists are asked not to bring other work to be sold.
  • An artist application is available online.  Applications are due by April 15th.

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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May 01 2021


10:00 am - 6:00 pm


Uptown Mount Vernon, Iowa
1st Street and Iowa 1


Joe Jennison
(319) 210-9935

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