By IMOGEN FARRIS
The fourth annual Chalktoberfest took place in the Marietta Square on Oct. 11 and 12, drawing close to 45,000 people.
The free festival featured 56 professional chalk artists filling the streets with large murals. Street vendors selling food and art lined the streets surrounding the artists with live music coming from the main stage in the middle of the square. The main highlight was Saturday at 7 p.m. with a band called Departure: The Journey Tribute Band.
People of all ages enjoyed in the fun of the event. Included in the festivities on Saturday was a craft beer festival. This was the first year the craft beer festival was included in Chalktoberfest and helped attract a large crowd with over 100 different kinds of craft beer. Participants paid $35 for unlimited beer from breweries including Sweetwater, Red Hare and Monday Night Brewing.
“It’s awesome! The art and Sweetwater beer is really good,” Katie Hafer, a nursing student at Georgia State University said. “My favorite is Captain America and Wonder Woman. They’re just so popular right now.
The theme artists participating in the competition were required to follow was “Patriotic.” The central idea of each piece was left up to each artist. The streets of the Marietta Square were blocked off and sections for artists to work were taped off into blocks. Companies and businesses sponsored the different blocks. Artists from South Carolina, Florida and as far as California came to the square to participate in the competition. All proceeds from the event went to the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art.
The scattered showers on Saturday didn’t deter from the fun of the festival. In case of inclement weather, Chalktoberfest staff is well prepared. “We’re the only chalk festival with a tarp crew,” said Kelsey Moran, curator for the museum. “That’s one unique thing about us.”
Moran is a recent KSU graduate with a degree in Art History. “Our goal is to get the whole square covered,” Moran said. She estimates that the festival drew in approximately 40,000 to 45,000 people this year, a staggering growth from the estimated 25,000 attendees in 2014.
When asked if Chalktoberfest will continue next year, Moran agreed. “We want the community to thrive,” she said.
The artists worked on their pieces from 10 a.m. on Saturday to the end of the competition at 5 p.m. Sunday. At 5 p.m., buckets that had been placed with each artist were collected to count tickets people had used to vote for their favorite piece. The artist with the most tickets won the competition and the title, “People’s Choice Award.” After the tickets were counted, the Deputy Director of the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art announced the winner.
The winner of the 2015 Artist People’s Choice Award was Nate Baranowski for his recreation of “Migrant Mother,” a photograph originally taken by Dorothea Lange as a symbol of the Great Depression. Baranowski creates chalk murals for local businesses in Tampa, Florida, and participates in chalk festivals across the country. For his mural at Chalktoberfest, Baranowski was assisted by his wife Jill.