The Midwest’s largest chalk festival is at your fingertips! This spring, artists from around the globe converge in downtown Maple Grove. Mark (or chalk) your calendars to catch original art that leaves a lasting impression before it disappears.
Selfie poses with 3D art, chalk-stained fingers and downward-looking spectators gathering in downtown Maple Grove are common sights during the annual Chalkfest Maple Grove, which draws more than 25,000 spectators annually. This year’s event is happening the weekend of June 10th and 11th and will feature sidewalk chalk art by more than 40 professionals, amateurs and art enthusiasts from around the world and as far away as Mexico, Ukraine and Colombia. Downtown Maple Grove is transformed into a street art gallery open for public viewing with public chalking areas provided for those who’d like to try their hand at chalk art.
Chalkfest Maple Grove began as a separate dream for its founders, Shawn McCann, Nancy Whitelaw, Kris Holm and Jennie Zafft. Shawn McCann, the festival’s creative director and co-founder, is a veteran street artist as well as a muralist and children’s book illustrator. “Being in the street art community for 20 years, I had a goal of bringing this art form to my community. It has been inspiring to watch the community embrace this art form and to see emerging artists become the next generation in the street art world,” says McCann.
The morning of June 10th, artists hit the street at dawn and have two days to complete their art. As guests will see, each piece is bright and bold, but also intricate, almost museum quality. Some creations even feature a 3D element and a noted spot to stand to take in the true “depth” of the piece or a specific spot so guests can become part of the art. Chalkfest originals are created with pastels and tempera (liquid chalk). This begs the question: what happens if it rains? Festival organizers are armed with tarps and Gorilla tape as soon as the skies cloud up to protect the art from the elements.
The first Chalkfest Maple Grove in 2016 featured 24 artists. Then, 2017 brought 36 artists, 2018 and 2019 each featured almost 60 artists. Then came the pandemic. Chalkfest pivoted with organizers creating a virtual event which included 12 international and domestic street artists, creating a one-hour video presentation that had a live component as well.
To encourage public interest in street art in 2020, the Maple Grove Business Association created the Chalkfest Mural Tour. Twelve 12 original art pieces created by Chalkfest artists were placed throughout the city of Maple Grove. This tour continues this year starting May 15–July 17 with 16 8’x8’ murals placed around Arbor Lakes and Maple Grove.
As the Midwest’s largest chalk festival, Chalkfest Maple Grove provides easy and free access to creations from artists all over the globe. Come support this awe-inspiring experience. Also consider being a sponsor and helping pay artist stipends, travel and material fees. To see the one-of-a-kind creations and to learn more about Chalkfest Maple Grove, go here.