ChalkFest 'perfect gateway' to holiday season

Nov. 19—ALBANY — For the Albany Museum of Art officials and planners who have brought the annual ChalkFest gathering to downtown Albany the past five years, Saturday's perfect cool fall weather was a gift.

"There have been a couple of years where the weather was really hot," AMA Director of Marketing and Communications Jim Hendricks said Saturday. "The only thing that helped was beer sales.

"But today is perfect. This fall weather, a little cool, adds a festive element to the approaching holiday season. I've seen a lot of smiles on people's faces. I think this is the perfect gateway to the holidays."

Some 30 or so young amateur chalk artists, singly and in groups, created their own masterpieces at ChalkFest while 10 professional artists competed for cash prizes with their works. And the many kids' activities, live music and food vendors at the new ChalkFest site, adjacent to the Veterans Park Amphitheatre and the Albany Civic Center, added to the festive air surrounding the annual event.

While the pros and kids created their artwork, area musicians Evan Barber and Bodean & the Poachers entertained a crowd that officials said grew throughout the day.

"We've got a pretty nice crowd out, and it's been steadily growing," Hendricks said. "From what I'm hearing, people like the new location. I certainly have heard no negative comments, and everyone appears to be having a good time with no problems.

"I'd like to think ArtFest (which, with a 'virtual event' two years ago, is now in its fifth year) has become a part of the community, something people look forward to. I certainly believe if we went away, we'd definitely be missed. We're growing every year, and that's something we'll continue to do."

Although entry to ChalkFest has been free the past two years, sponsorships contribute funding to the Albany Museum of Art's special programs and educational events, Hendricks said.