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Sackville Street Chalk Art Festival on tap this summer

Emma Hoch, the coordinator for this summer’s Sackville Street Chalk Art Festival, stands in the “terrifying pit of doom” created last fall on Bridge Street by street artist David Johnston. Johnston, also known as Chalkmaster Dave, will be returning to Sackville as part of this year’s festival.
Emma Hoch, the coordinator for this summer’s Sackville Street Chalk Art Festival, stands in the “terrifying pit of doom” created last fall on Bridge Street by street artist David Johnston. Johnston, also known as Chalkmaster Dave, will be returning to Sackville as part of this year’s festival.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – The streets will come alive like never before as a brand new festival comes to town this summer.

Sackville will be hosting its first-ever street chalk art festival in August, an event that will bring in renowned artists and also feature musical entertainment, workshops, children’s activities and more.

The two-day event, slated for Aug. 25-26, is believed to be the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada, said the festival’s coordinator Emma Hoch.

Anticipated to draw in artists who will turn the downtown sidewalks and streets into canvases of color and one-of-a-kind works of art, the arts celebration is being funded through a federal Canada 150 grant.

Matt Pryde, manager of Sackvile’s recreation programs and special events, said the idea to host such a festival was sparked by discussions amongst a committee of town management staff, local business owners and Mount Allison University representatives who had been meeting to talk about how to attract more people to Sackville. Pryde said the group was “just throwing ideas around” when talk of a similar street chalk festival in Victoria, B.C. came up.

“We thought it might be something that would be fun, something unique,” he said, adding that he then got in touch with festival organizers there to determine the logistics of hosting such an event.

Pryde said his department applied for a federal grant to host the festival, tying it in with Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations (where the artists must create work that represents Canada). The town was successful in receiving $25,000 to host the event, with some of that funding going toward hiring a coordinator.

Hoch said she plans to take a historical approach to the festival, relating it to the traditional street painting festivals that have been traced back to Italy in the 16th century, where the Madonnari (so named because they would recreate images of the Madonna), many of them traveling artists who had been brought into the cities to work on the cathedrals, would create images on the streets when the work was done as another way to make a living.

Hoch said the hope is to bring in several street painters for the festival, and has already booked Nova Scotia’s David Johnston, aka Chalkmaster Dave. Chalkmaster Dave, who travels across the country drawing three-dimensional sidewalk chalk art pieces at festivals and for corporate clients, will be a familiar face to Sackvillians, as he was commissioned by the town last year to create artwork for the Sackville Fall Fair. The “terrifying pit of doom” was a popular draw for people of all ages, and Hoch expects his upcoming work to be just as fun and interactive.

Called the Sackville Street Chalk Art Festival: Celebrating 150+ Years, the family-friendly event will also feature live music focused on Canada’s early cultures, as well as kids workshops and activities based on chalk drawing.

“It’s a great time of year to do an end-of-summer celebration and draw people into our downtown,” said Pryde.

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