Chalk The Walk 2023

street during chalk the walk

Chalk The Walk 2023

The 18th annual Chalk the Walk, Iowa’s largest-ever Madonnari Festival, is a two-day festival taking place Saturday and Sunday, May 6 and 7, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day in Uptown Mount Vernon.

Collaborative Centerpiece

The committee has chosen Van Gogh’s “Artist Bedroom at Arles” as its large community piece this year. 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 “Van Gogh” image. When finished, a recreation will appear on Mount Vernon’s Main Street as a giant image. This centerpiece of Chalk the Walk 2023 will be created with pastel chalk by dozens of artists of all ages and abilities.

“Mount Vernon and the Chalk the Walk committee have been admiring and considering this painting as our main piece for several years now. The committee discussed the bright colors and the iconic nature of this simple but important work of art and decided that this was the year to honor Van Gogh.”

Matt Siders, Director of Parks and Rec for the City of Mount Vernon and Chair of the Chalk the Walk Committee

This year’s event also will feature the work of dozens of artists creating original art in 8’ by 10’ rectangles chalked directly onto Mount Vernon’s historic 1st Street. Last year’s 1st Place Winners, Brielle Hufendick, Eliza Nelson and Matt Nelson, have been invited back to the event as the 2023 featured artists.

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.

A volunteer team of artists and engineers built a lifesize replica of “Artist Bedroom at Arles” for display at the event. Guests will be able to get their picture taken INSIDE the actual lifesize replica at the event.

More than $1,375 in cash prizes will be awarded to chalk artists this year, with a formal check presentation ceremony to take place Sunday afternoon, May 7.

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.”

Applications Are Here

  • The artist application is available online.
  • The food vendor application is available online.
  • The volunteer application is available online.

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 07 2023


10:00 am - 6:00 pm


Uptown Mount Vernon, Iowa
1st Street and Iowa 1


Joe Jennison
(319) 210-9935
[email protected]