Chalk Art Contest new to Thunder Bay Maritime Festival

News Photo by Darby Hinkley Katie Wolf stands on the rooftop balcony of the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center overlooking the Thunder Bay River and the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail. The new chalk art contest will take place on the sidewalk below. Wolf is NOAA’s liaison for the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. She helps with education and outreach at Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

ALPENA — The Fourth of July will be more colorful than just red, white and blue this year. Chalk artists of all ages are invited to decorate the sidewalk with their rainbow-bright creations at the premier Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest Thursday at Thunder Bay Maritime Festival.

Artists of all ages and skill levels are welcome to register by noon July 3 to be eligible to compete in the contest for prizes.

On July 4, walk-ins can participate until supplies run out, but they will not be part of the judging process or eligible for prizes.

Contest categories include children 10 and younger, youth 11 to 17, adults 18 and older, and family/team of up to four members. The registration fee of $5 per child or youth, $10 per adult, and $15 per team, includes a box of 48 high-quality brightly colored chalks to keep.

“We have this fantastic Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Trail that runs right along the river, so it’s right in the middle of the festival,” said Katie Wolf, NOAA liaison for the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. “And there’s this big phenomenon going on around the world right now on sidewalk chalk art contests.”

Wolf helps with education and outreach at Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.

“There are just these amazing illustrations, and some of them are 3-D, where it looks like there’s a fish sitting on the water,” Wolf said. “So we really wanted to tap into that. And we really try to look for activities that everybody can be involved in, regardless of ability or age. And this really lends itself very well to that.”

She said one side of the walkway with still be open to pedestrians, and the other side will be for the chalk art contest.

“We are really fortunate to have Thunder Bay Arts jump in with both feet and be really strong partners with us,” Wolf noted. “They’ve been helping with the planning, selecting the chalks, volunteering, everything to promote it, so we’re really thrilled to be partnering with them.”

Two Thunder Bay Arts Gallery artists will be creating their own chalk art for the public to view during the festival.

“Pat Manning and Corky Gates both have really fun, amazing styles,” Wolf said. “They are going to come on July 3 and spend about three hours each doing illustrations on the wall for the 500,000-gallon dive tank. … So when you walk up to the maritime fest, and you’re back by the pool tank, you’re going to see these great chalk illustrations on the wall, so that children and adults can stand up in front of them and take pictures.”

The professional artwork will be aquatic-themed, she said, and Manning an Gates will begin working at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The public chalk art contest theme is “Celebrate Great Lakes Treasures.” Check-in begins at 10 a.m., and the artists will be at work from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when work must be completed. Official judging is from 2 to 3 p.m., and People’s Choice award judging is from 3 to 3:45 p.m., where the public can pay $1 per vote, with proceeds to benefit Alpena Fireworks.

Wolf explained that contest participants will only be allowed to use the provided chalk, to keep the playing field level for everyone.

“Whether you’re a five-year-old or an 85-year-old, you’ll be using the same chalk set,” Wolf noted.

She said the provided chalk is eco-friendly.

“We want to make sure that they’re not toxic, and that they can be washed away,” Wolf said. “They’re 48 brilliant colors, so they should have a lot of fun with it. And apparently it takes a lot of chalk to get the concentration of colors.”

Participants may bring their own unscented hairspray to set their work if desired.

“To make it even more fun, Thunder Bay Arts is sponsoring a musical duo called the Bandura Gypsies, they are out of Ann Arbor, and they’re not only musicians, they are also artists,” Wolf said. “We will have a very large black chalkboard for them, and they will be doing illustrations on that board throughout the contest, as well as playing music along the Maritime Heritage Trail.”

Awards will be given at 4 p.m. There will be a grand prize overall, with a value of $340.

“The grand prize is a combination of Lady Michigan Glass-Bottom Boat tickets for a large party, as well as a Thunder Bay Arts annual pass,” Wolf said.

Judges include local professional artist Erv Lewandowski, who will be the grand prize judge, and other artists and art teachers from the community.

Best overall in the children, youth and adult divisions will be valued at $160 each, for Lady Michigan and TBA passes.

The prize for family and team best overall will be valued at $220, for the same prize package in a larger group quantity.

The winner of the people’s choice award will be the art piece created by Bandura Gypsies.

“We kept the registration fee as low as possible, and it basically covers the cost of the chalks,” Wolf said.

Those 10 and younger need to have an adult 18 or older with them. Wolf added that since there is live music, participants are asked to not bring or play their own music during the contest.

She is excited for this new contest, and hopes it increases attendance to the festival, which is always very popular.

“We have a really special community,” Wolf said. “To me, Alpena is the absolute best place to be on July 4th, and I love how there’s all these different things that families can come together and do, for very little cost, or for free.”

Wolf added that so far this summer, attendance has been great at the GLMHC.

“We have cameras and software that monitor the people who come into our building,” Wolf said. “And it is able to detect the people who come in and out so it doesn’t repeat. If you come in and out five times, it’ll only count you once.”

She noted that numbers tend to go up in the summer.

“We had 1,603 people come in through those doors,” Wolf said of the weekend of June 14, 15 and 16. “Which doesn’t include all the people who are coming to the sanctuary for outdoor activities, like making underwater robots in the makerspace, which is outside the museum.”

That weekend, the GLMHC hosted the Surf’s Up in the Sanctuary art exhibit, and the 2019 World Tour Paddling Film Festival.

“It’s a good weekend,” she said. “Especially before July 4th, to get that number of people.”

A large crowd is always expected for the Fourth of July, with all the events and activities at the Thunder Bay Maritime Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

For more information about the festival, see the July 3 edition of The Alpena News, or go online to www.alpenanews.com.

To register for the chalk art contest, go to www.thunderbayfriends.org.

Reach Lifestyles Editor Darby Hinkley at 989-358-5691 or dhinkley @thealpenanews.com.