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Kentville Chalk Art Festival livens up Webster Street with colourful designs

KENTVILLE, NS - It was a way to get people engaged in their community and liven up the downtown by creating colourful chalk designs.

PBJ Design of Halifax, a not-for-profit organization, facilitated the first Chalk Art Festival in Kentville on Oct. 14

Project manager Alyson Dobrota said people seemed very excited about the event. PBJ Design aims to liven-up public spaces and build community engagement, often through creative projects. Originally from Kentville, Dobrota said they wanted to bring an event to the town so they decided on a chalk art festival.

“A lot of people in Kentville wanted to see more art so this is just a way to get people into it and try to beautify their community - and it helps them feel more connected to where they live,” Dobrota said.

She said there were people of all ages taking advantage of the opportunity to express themselves, including a lot of children. The festival included a chalk art contest open to anyone who wanted to take part. Dobrota said the local business community was very supportive, donating prizes.

She said organizers hoped that people driving past would wonder what was going on with the gathering crowd. The town closed a section of Webster Street for the event, transforming the asphalt into a community canvas.

The space quickly filled with a cornucopia of colourful designs, which Dobrota said would only be there temporarily but would hopefully make a lasting impact.

Project manager Katherine Waterbury of PBJ Design said chalk is very colourful and a simple way to create art. The Kentville native said PBJ is all about engaging people through simple plans or events that create big change and that’s why they decided on chalk art, which is lively and bright.

They hope to make the Chalk Art Festival an annual event in Kentville. The vision is to make more space available for future festivals and to include vendors and food trucks.

Waterbury said it felt fantastic seeing so many people of all ages enjoying themselves at the inaugural event. There were people filling the street and picking up chalk before the event even started, which she said was “really, really awesome” to see.

“It’s so easy to pick up a piece of chalk and draw something, and that’s the beautiful thing about this event, you don’t have to be a talented artist to be involved,” Waterbury said.

Vanessa Thurston of Kentville was among those creating colourful designs. She has a three-and-a-half-year-old son, Kellan, and figured he would enjoy the experience.

Along with husband Adam, they decided to have a community family day and made the Chalk Art Festival part of it. She said it’s the type of community event they look forward to.

“I think it’s great, kids love to do this kind of stuff and the fact that you get to sit out in the street is even cooler,” Thurston said.

Amber Saulnier of Halifax said she and her family were driving through Kentville looking at the Pumpkin People but noticed the Chalk Art Festival and decided to stop in. She said it’s a great way to get everybody out colouring and a great creative and social outlet for kids. She liked the idea of the contest, especially for older children.

Saulnier said that although Oct. 14 turned out to be a beautiful day, the weather in the fall could be a bit risky. She’d like to see the festival become an annual event, perhaps held during warmer weather.

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