The smell of sweet barbeque radiated from food trucks. The squeals of children jumping in bounce houses, live music, and amazing art filled the air this past weekend at the third annual Nashville Chalk Fest.

The free two-day event, held in Centennial Park, benefited the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences in support of the Preschool for Children with Autism and the Mama Lere Hearing School, both of which are located on Vanderbilt’s campus. The Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences has provided personal care to patients and their families for over 60 years. The event is sponsored by several local and national organizations and businesses such as Burger Up, Panera Bread and Kroger. The sponsors that make this event possible each have their own chalk creation, made by one of the several chalk artists.

Nashville Chalk Festival
Nashville Chalk Festival

Many of the artists are local, but even more travel from all over to be featured artists in the festival. Zach Herndon is a chalk artist from Georgia who regularly performs chalk murals at festivals and events. He is part of a group of artists from Atlanta that often perform at the same shows and travel together.

When asked how he had his start in the chalk art world, Herndon said,  “I started working with chalk because of my wife.” Growing up in Savannah around the Savannah College of Art and Design, his wife has always loved creating chalk art and always participated in the school’s annual chalk festival. When she began touring the country and performing at art events, Zach decided he wanted to be a part of the chalk-loving community as well.

The consensus among the artists is that their main goal is to spread the joy of chalk through traditional and 3D chalk art. They aim to promote awareness and education of chalk as an artistic medium. Some of the artists also work in other mediums such as painting and sculpture. However, the main focus of many is solely on chalk art. Many of the performers also make chalk signage and store displays in addition to their murals.

The event was a huge success and a great source of family fun. The Nashville Chalk Fest is still accepting donations which can be made on their website. Keep an eye out next year for the festival’s fourth annual celebration.

Photos by Brandon Jacome-Mendez//The Vanderbilt Hustler

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