AMA ChalkFest Reimagined as Monthlong November Celebration

Staff Report

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

AMA ChalkFest is taking on a new format with events and contests throughout the month of November.

“Our 3rd annual Albany Museum of Art ChalkFest won’t be the downtown street festival that drew 4,000 people to downtown Albany in 2019, but it will be a lot of fun,” ChalkFest Co-Chair Mallory Black said. “We will still have chalk art, craft beer, music and food, and we will keep a connection with downtown through our partners at Pretoria Fields Collective.

“This year in particular, everyone can use a big dose of optimism. That’s the reason why we selected Happy Together as the theme. ChalkFest has been a major fundraiser for the AMA, but this year we are doing it not to raise funds, but to raise spirits in the community.”

"The Albany Museum of Art anticipates that the community will embrace ChalkFest and participate as in the past while practicing social distancing and other proactive measures for COVID-19 safety," ChalkFest Co-Chair R. Ripley Bell said.

Some similar events around the country have canceled this year because of the uncertainty of COVID, but Black said ChalkFest organizers wanted to make sure Albany’s signature fall entertainment event took place, even if the format was changed.

“Of course, we hope everything will be better by Fall 2021 so we can have the big festival that everyone had enjoyed, with professional chalk artists, local amateur chalk artists, craft beer vendors from throughout the state, live bands outdoors, a fleet of food trucks and a wide array of vendors,” Black said. “That wasn’t practical this year, but we found ways to keep the event engaging in different ways.”

The November-long celebration begins with a big weekend kickoff party Nov. 7-8 at Pretoria Fields, which has been a major partner of ChalkFest since its inception. There also will be a Paints & Pints painting party at Pretoria on Thursday, Nov 19.

A series of chalk art contests, with age groups ranging from pre-kindergartners to adults, will get underway on Nov 9 and continue through Black Friday. Businesses in town are being asked to decorate windows for ChalkFest Month, and partner restaurants in Albany also will have special ChalkFest Days when you can help support the AMA simply by dining out.

“This has been a year of challenges for all of us, and yet the silver lining is that we have all learned how to adapt to seriously unusual scenarios,” AMA Executive Director Andrew J. Wulf, Ph.D., said. “This is true in the cultural sector as well, and I am delighted the AMA has continued to innovate and experiment and deliver programs, slightly different than before, yet creatively as rich and accessible as ever. This year’s ChalkFest is a gift to the Albany community.”

The celebration starts at Pretoria, 120 Pine Ave., on Saturday, Nov 7 with a kickoff party from 1-9 pm. There will be live bands, chalk art activities for kids, craft beer, Georgia football on the pub screen, and food truck delicacies. There is no admission charge.

From 1-5 pm on Sunday, Nov 8, you can enjoy the synergy of ChalkFest and the Second Sunday Tift Market at Pretoria Fields, with more live music, craft beer, food and activities for the kids. As with Saturday’s event, there is no admission charge.

“ChalkFest has been a real good collaboration for us for the past few years,” Dr. Tripp Morgan, founder and CEO of Pretoria Fields, said.“We’re just happy to get back to a semblance of normal, things for people to do outside and enjoy each other again. I think we’ll get people out for this event.”

ChalkFest will return to Pretoria Fields at 6 pm on Thursday, Nov 19 for Paints & Pints. Participants will be able to enjoy Pretoria beers while creating their masterpieces. The cost is $20 for AMA members and $30 for future members. Email annie.vanoteghem@albanymuseum.com to reserve your spot.

"This will be a fun evening where you get to come into the brewery with friends, grab a beer and a canvas paint-by-number set, and have a blast!” Annie Vanoteghem, director of education and public programming, said. “Since we are giving out the kits, you can spread out anywhere you are comfortable and go at your own pace."

The Albany Museum of Art also will be distributing hundreds of packets of sidewalk chalk to young artists in the Albany area so they can chalk up their sidewalks and driveways throughout November.

Their sidewalk and driveway masterpieces could win them prizes during the month!

Each week beginning Monday, Nov 9, chalk art contests are scheduled. Young artists that first week can compete in four categories—pre-K and kindergarteners; elementary students; middle schoolers, and high schoolers.

Photos of the artworks will be emailed to annie.vanoteghem@albanymuseum.com by 5 pm on Friday, Nov 13, where they will be compiled into a photo album that will be posted that evening on the AMA Facebook page. The artworks in each of the four age categories that receives the most “likes” by midnight Sunday, Nov 15 will win first prize. The winners will be announced by noon on Monday, Nov 16.

“We’ll follow that same schedule each week,” Vanoteghem said. “On the week that starts Monday, Nov 16, we’ll have local amateur artists competing, and on Thanksgiving week starting Monday, Nov 23 we’ll have families competing. Voting will be conducted on the weekends and the winners will be posted the following Monday.”

Kids, adults and families are also encouraged to upload their chalk art creations to their social media pages and tag #AMAChalkFest and the #AlbanyMuseumOfArt.

AMA Director of Development and Membership Chloe Hinton said she hopes businesses will get into the ChalkFest spirit as well.

“That’s what we want to do—raise everyone’s spirits in a difficult year,” she said. “Businesses can decorate their windows with chalk paint to show their community support. We also have local artists who can help create beautiful displays for them for a fee. Interested businesses can call me at 229.439.8400 or email chloe.hinton@albanymuseum.com for details.

“This will be a terrific show of community support for businesses that participate. We’ll post photos on our websites and social media to make sure ChalkFest fans know you’re supporting this worthy cause!”

Hinton said folks in the Albany area also can support the AMA by eating at one of the ChalkFest partner restaurants on designated days in November, when a percentage of the proceeds will go to the AMA.

“Locos Grill & Pub (Westover Road) was the first to come on board, and they’ve designated 5 pm until closing on Thursday, Nov 12 as their ChalkFest Night,” Hinton said. “We’ll close out this ‘November to Remember’ at El Vaquero (3007 Kensington Court), which will be all day on Saturday, Nov 28. They will even have a specialty drink just for the occasion!

“The beauty of it is you don’t have to be an AMA member or tell them you’re there for ChalkFest,” Hinton said. “Just by dining on delicious food, whether it’s dine-in, takeout or delivery, you’ll be helping to build a stronger community through art.”

Other participating restaurants will be announced on the AMA (albanymuseum.com) and ChalkFest (amachalkfest.com) websites, as well as AMA and ChalkFest social media.