Chalk art competition will debut at Strawberry Festival

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 21 May 2016 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Nicole Bellnier, left, and artist Jennifer Gray, who is also director of the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council, are pictured by the chalk art drawing Gray did on Friday at Breeze Inn Again, a restaurant at Point Breeze that Bellnier opened a year ago.

ALBION – The upcoming Albion Strawberry Festival will include a chalk art competition for the first time in the event’s 30-year history.

Young children, teens and adults are all welcome to create a chalk art design with a historical theme. The competition will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 11 on the Main Street sidewalks between the lift bridge and Bank Street.

“We wanted to bring something to the festival that everyone could do together. Brothers, sisters, kids and adults can all compete,” said Nicole Bellnier, one of the organizers of “Chalk the Walk.”

Bellnier and Adam Johnson, president of the Albion merchants Association, are headed up the effort along with Jennifer Gray, director of the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. Gray was at Point Breeze on Friday, creating a chalk art display at Breeze Inn Again, Bellnier’s restaurant on Route 98 near Lake Ontario.

“There is a real grass roots movement with a bunch of people who want to see Albion flourish,” Gray said. They’re bringing in the arts to draw a different demographic.”

Photo by Tom Rivers – Jennifer Gray works on the chalk art at Breeze Inn Again on Friday.

Gray helped run the chalk art events in Batavia the past two years as part of the Summer in the City festival. She has seen chalk art festivals draw huge crowds in Raleigh, NC.

The Albion event will include prizes for the top creations. There will be a $5 entry fee for youth (ages 5-12), students (ages 13-18) and a $10 fee for adults (19 and older). First prize for youth includes $50, $100 for youth, and $150 for adults.

Bellnier said it will be exciting to see the creations take shape during the festival. The historical theme can include local or national themes.

“It’s going to be really neat to see history come alive on the streets of downtown Albion,” she said.

Bellnier paid $500 for the chalk art at her restaurant. That money will help GO Art! and the Albion Merchants Association promote Chalk the Walk, and also give out prizes.

Christopher Mitchell Funeral Homes also has sponsored Gray to create a chalk art in downtown Albion next week, and Johnson has paid for one to go by the Frosty Bucket, a new ice cream shop he is opening next week on North Main Street.