If you’re looking for a less-spooky way to get into the Halloween spirit, don’t sleep on this year’s annual Yakima Chalk Art Festival. Sponsored by Ron’s Coins & Collectibles, the Chalk Art Fest takes place on October 9 in Performance Park. Yakima hosts this event intending to spread creativity and draw our community together with a fun Halloween theme.

Yakima Chalk Art Festival
The third annual Chalk Art Festival hosted a Dia de Muertos theme that demonstrated particularly bright and vivid pieces like this one created by 2017 winners Colleda Monick and Joe Hudon. Photo courtesy: Downtown Association of Yakima

Performance Park is at 100 Pendleton Way in Yakima, adjacent to Second Street Grill and within the same block as the Yakima County Court District. It’s a beautiful and spacious park with lush green grass and a surplus of open bench seating. The area is decorated in preparation for the event, partly secluded from the street by evergreen privacy trees. The small fountain on the brick foundation signifies the entrance to the park.

Local artists who registered for the Chalk Festival will congregate in Downtown Yakima and are given two complimentary packs of pastel chalk to begin their journey. But you don’t need to be registered to participate in the creating of the artwork, only to be secured a spot and be placed in the judging. This event, while generally centered around the art, is not exclusively about it. In addition to the People’s Choice Award and Judge’s Selection Award for the pieces, folks are encouraged to wear costumes while they complete their artwork. A Best Group Costume award is given to the top three lots in two different age groups — one prize for the top three for children under the age of nine, and another for anyone over the age of ten.

Yakima Chalk Art Festival
The chalk provided to the registrees and the drop-by citizens alike is breath-taking pastels that can be used and combined to make unique gradients. Photo credit: Jelleke Vanooteghem

Even if you aren’t looking to get your pants dirty, there are plenty of other non-chalk-related activities. If getting a kick out of the costumes isn’t enough to encourage you to go, maybe the live music and food will. The specific set has not been published, but there’s reason enough to believe that they will be wildly entertaining. The music artists follow the subject of locality, and so will the catering services. The food vendors will be serving a variety of choices, and they will be mirrored with art vendors set up to display and market their other works.

You’ll find a plethora of photo ops between the costumes, spectacular graphics, and wonderful throng of vendors. Additionally, though, the festival is equipped with a colorfully themed selfie station. Past festivals would draw people from all over central Washington to see the extravagant pieces form before their eyes on the sidewalks. When acknowledging the considerable rise in attendance since the first few years the festival has happened, it wouldn’t be unlikely to see around 2,000 visitors and artists this year.

Yakima Chalk Art Festival
In 2018, the Chalk Festival’s theme was Superheros. Some folks decorated huge spaces with colorful and often life-sized pieces as the attendance showed an all-time high. Photo courtesy: Downtown Association of Yakima

Families and guests of all kinds are encouraged to stop by, and they’ll be given chalk and free range to create whatever they can dream up. Your art certainly doesn’t have to retain fully to a scary theme — just anything related to Halloween will be a much-appreciated addition to this mosaic of styles. Because everyone is welcome, there’s no skill level you must meet, and you can be proud of whatever creation you have to offer to the mural, big or small.

The artworks will be completed along Yakima sidewalks and in front of the local businesses that keep the city running. If not for a sense of community, come to Yakima’s annual Chalk Art Festival for a sense of place among brilliant members of your town.

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