ChalkFest, Project Scare-a-Crow draw interest downtown

Some had dark marks on their faces as if they just finished work in a coal mine. Others had their hands, arms, clothes and even the soles of their feet coated in various, bright colors.

They were among the 55 artists participating in the fifth annual ChalkFest at National Road Commons Park on Saturday. They used sidewalk chalk to turn the park’s surrounding sidewalks and streets into depictions of themes such as “spooky season,” “family game night” and “pop culture.”

The event, presented by Project Jericho and the National Trail Parks and Recreation District (NTPRD), also featured the 14 creations of several families and local organizations for the annual Project Scare-a-Crow. The theme of these creations was “family game night” and included classics such as Monopoly and Dungeons & Dragons.

The 55 professional and amateur artists is the highest number of participants yet, according to Brad Boyer, NTPRD Deputy Director.

“It’s a unique festival for people to engage in art and community in an atmosphere that’s fun to be a part of,” he said. “We try to make it family-friendly and accessible.”

Participants joined as individuals, pairs, teams and families. Some are veterans of all five events.

Kenton Ridge High senior Jacee Hamilton got involved as an eighth grader and has loved participating each year, calling it a different way of looking at art. She especially likes the spooky theme.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Monsters have been good subjects for her in past events, with her winning for a portrait of Pennywise the clown from “It” and placing third another year for horror favorite “Candyman”. This time, Hamilton went with another horror legend, Freddy Krueger from the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” series.

Hamilton plans to continue in future ChalkFests and pursue becoming a tattoo artist upon graduation.

Another five-time competitor and former first-place and second-place finisher, Alyssa Tackett likes the community involvement as much as drawing.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“I love the children’s reaction when they look at my drawings,” she said.

Tackett found inspiration for her 2022 contribution while bike riding with her dad around the CJ Brown Reservoir and seeing a painting of pumpkins — so she chose the headless horseman.

The event was a welcome break from her nursing classes. Tackett plans to continue her participation as long as it’s around.

Eleven-year-old Hunter Seaton of Beavercreek’s big scare was potentially not being able to draw for a second year. He broke his left arm doing martial arts. Fortunately, he’s right-handed.

“We weren’t sure about ChalkFest this year, but he got the pins out and he was dedicated to complete it,” said grandmother Lou Surgenor of Springfield.

Leaning on chairs and pads, he persevered and had his family cheering him on. Seaton said he’d like to be an author/illustrator someday. His chalk drawing of “Alien vs. Predator” even has his grandmother curious to see the movie.

The numbers of artists pleased Dayton-based artist Blue, who has advised on the event with Project Jericho from the beginning and also does his own work during it.

“There’s a large desire for coming together in communities and art is good for that,” he said. “There’s a personal investment. This is the best thing of its kind in 30-40 miles.”

The event also included live music from Adelee and Gentry, chalk for visitors to do their own art, food trucks and interactive art projects for kids by the Springfield Museum of Art.

Thomas and Dianna Tapogna of Springfield were set to go to a different festival out of town, but opted to stay. They wandered among the scarecrows, narrowing down their favorites.

“They are all good, everyone is so talented,” Thomas Tapogna said of both forms of art.

The Tapognas said they were glad to support a community event and planned to top off the day with coffee or a glass of wine from local downtown businesses.

There were five competitive categories and, for the first time, a people’s choice award voted on by attendees. Winners will be listed on the NTPRD Facebook page.

The public is also invited to vote for their favorite Project Scare-a-Crow creation. A voting box for paper ballots is available at National Road Commons Park, NTPRD’s homepage or on their Facebook page through Oct. 28.

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