The Bloom N Garden N Chalk Fest models itself after Italian street painting, a tradition dating back to the 16th century in which artists would travel from town to town, transforming the streets and public squares into a temporary gallery.
This year, 83 artists participated, with over 10,000 people attending, which is double last year’s attendance. Participating artists ranged from amateurs chalking for the first time to professionals who have been evolving their sidewalk techniques for over twenty years. Students from area schools such as USF also participated.
Some chalk artists also displayed more permanent pieces at the Syd Entel Gallery on Main Street.
Winner of the People’s Choice Award was Lester Mendoza of West Palm; Alice Crittenden of Santa Barbara, CA won the Animals & Pets Award; the Safety Harbor Public Art Committee won the History award; Julie & Becky Graden of Orlando won the Floral Award; Doug Wright of Clearwater won the Woman & Child Award; Ilona McKinley won the Ladybugs & Butterflies Award; and Laurie Pinna & Dave Conley won the Under the Sea Award.
The Bloom N Garden N Chalk Fest was started two years ago by Glen S. Caristinos, the event’s “Director of Fun”; Bobbie Wheeler, formerly of Safety Harbor Public Arts Committee; Stacy Roth, local artist and owner of Harbour Arts; and Safety Harbor Museum director Bobbie Davidson. “It was designed to help our downtown businesses and to raise funds for the Safety Harbor Museum,” said Caristinos. “It has made record breaking sales for most merchants in town.”
Proceeds from the Bloom N Garden N Chalk Fest benefit the Safety Harbor Regional Museum, and fund local art projects and scholarships.
Expect next year’s chalk fest to grow, with more participants and more spectators. More information on the chalk fest can be found at www.bloomNchalkfest.org.