Officials discuss chalk walk’s timing, location

Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
A volunteer grabbed a box of chalk to stuff in a bag as volunteers worked last week to fill 500 bags with goodies for the Chalk Walk Arts Festival in Jasper. The event was schedule for last weekend but was rained out and has been shifted to this Saturday.

By CANDY NEAL
Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — The Chalk Walk Arts Festival will be held Saturday around the Square. Because of rain, it was postponed from this past Saturday.

This new date, which is the day before Mother’s Day, has at least one downtown merchant concerned.

That prompted a lengthy discussion at the Jasper Community Arts Commission’s meeting Tuesday afternoon about the event’s future.

Arts Director Kit Miracle told the commission that a merchant contacted her about having the Square closed on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. The merchant thinks the street closures could discourage customers from coming to downtown businesses. But opening the Square to traffic would be dangerous for children who come to the chalk walk, she said.

“Maybe we need to think about moving the chalk walk to the arts center,” Miracle suggested.

Commission members weren’t too keen on that idea. “I think it’s important that we keep it downtown,” member Linda Kahle said.

“We want to revitalize downtown,” President Mike Jones said. “Moving an event from downtown seems counterproductive.”

This is the third consecutive year the chalk walk had to be postponed from its original date, the first Saturday in May.

Kahle inquired about changing the date of the annual event, which is in its 10th year. Technical Director Doreen Lechner said that moving it to the weekend after Mother’s Day would put the rain date on Memorial Day weekend. Plus, people’s schedules get busy with graduations at the end of May.

Moving it to later in the summer or the fall would conflict with projects going on at the arts center that use her work crew, so it would mean fewer people available to set up and tear down equipment at the chalk walk, Lechner said. And pushing the event too far into the summer would mean participants would be outside in what likely would be extremely hot conditions, Miracle said.

Commission member Sherry Monesmith asked about moving the rain date two weeks after the original date, which would take it to the Saturday after Mother’s Day. Miracle said that a lot of the equipment and supplies are stored at City Hall and organizers use a street department truck, which also holds equipment. When the event is postponed, the equipment stays in place; it is not moved back to the arts center, she said. Miracle said that she doesn’t know if the street department would allow organizers to keep the equipment on the truck for two weeks, but she will check.

Street Commissioner Raymie Eckerle is out of town and Assistant Street Commissioner Jeff Theising was out of the office at a training session this morning, so they were unavailable to The Herald for comment.

Commission members agreed that the event should stay on the Square on the first Saturday of May. They will discuss a rain date later. In the meantime, Miracle said that she will talk with other downtown merchants to gauge their opinions.

Jones noted at Tuesday’s meeting that there is a 20 percent chance for rain this coming Saturday. Should rain prevent the chalk walk from happening this weekend, the event will be postponed to June 1 or 8 and will be held at the arts center, Miracle said this morning.

Contact Candy Neal at cneal@dcherald.com.




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