ALBANY — The Albany Museum of Art’s original ChalkFest last year sneaked up on a lot of people who couldn’t quite suss out the concept of people drawing on the street with chalk and how that mixed with brewers of craft beer.
This year, they got it.
While 2018’s inaugural ChalkFest was a rip-roaring success, drawing more than 3,000 visitors to the 100 block of Pine Avenue downtown, early indications Saturday afternoon were that the sophomore event did its predecessor one better, drawing an even bigger crowd and more vendors to the downtown district for a day of pop art and popping tops.
“A lot of people didn’t know what to expect last year,” Mallory Black, who headed up the planning of ChalkFest for AMA, said Saturday as the crowd continued to build. “The people that came last year, though, most of them enjoyed it, and they spread the word.
“We got the word out through our social media and with the help of our local media partners — who have been awesome — and the people have responded. This is something different for Albany, and it’s generated a lot of interest on a lot of different levels. Some came for the bands, some came to watch the chalk artists, and some came to enjoy the craft beers. And when they got here, the people who came for all those different aspects realized, ‘Hey, this is just a cool event.’”
Luq Coffen of Atlanta was one of the professional chalk artists whose works started to take shape — to the amazement of photo-snapping spectators — by early afternoon.
“This is my first time here, and I love this area,” Coffen said. “It’s very inspiring.
“I started doing this as something of a chalkboard hobby, and friends told me about the organization and said I should get into street chalk art. I’ve been doing it about a year now and have gone to between 10 and 15 festivals. I’m loving it.”
Liz Tomon, who left Colorado to come to work at P&G-Albany, said ChalkFest is the kind of event she came to expect in her native state.
“This is really a cool event,” Tomon, who was checking out ChalkFest with her chalk-artist-loving “mutt,” Lily, said. “It’s really similar to the kinds of things we used to have in Colorado.”
Seven-year-old Kaileigh Ross got a trip to ChalkFest as a birthday treat.
“This is such a cool thing for her,” Aqueela Ross said as Kaileigh worked on a drawing with Lamar Reese Elementary art teacher Gary Cannon. “There’s so much here for her — for everyone — to enjoy.”
One of the seven candidates seeking the Albany mayoral seat, Omar Salaam, took in ChalkFest from a different vantage point: working in one of the food trucks that lined Pine Avenue, all of which were doing brisk business throughout the day.
“There’s not time to campaign when you’re busy cooking,” Salaam said. “But it’s going well here today. And the campaign’s going well, too. I’m the one who got the standing ovation at the last forum.”
Black said that everyone who enjoyed ChalkFest II can go ahead and mark their calendars for the third iteration of the event: ChalkFest III is scheduled for Oct. 3 next year.