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Chalkin’ up some fun

Inaugural Philadelphia Chalk Festival unfolds in Fishtown and Kensington.

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us about Philly and the River Wards neighborhoods, it’s that the communities are creative and still manage to have fun in the face of adversity.

This Saturday will showcase that crafty resilience when the Philadelphia Chalk Festival takes over 14 locations in the Fishtown and Kensington areas.

“The Philadelphia Chalk Festival is a one-day, socially distanced, street painting festival. Philadelphia artists will create temporary chalk murals to be found at 14 locations in the Kensington/Fishtown Area,” according to festival producer April Rose and festival director and founder Rushawn Stanley. “It’s sort of like a live art treasure hunt with a digital map.”

A virtual map of the murals will be made available a few days before the festival, but locations are already confirmed and include:


Franny Lou’s Porch

Lutheran Settlement House

Philadelphia Brewing Company

Pizza Brain

Palmer Park

The Boom Room

The Monkey Club

Harriet’s Bookshop

Rivers Casino

Coral Street Arts House

The International Bar




Stanley, who organizes events and fundraisers for the Philly artist community, came up with the idea for a chalk festival a few months ago.

After being commissioned to create a temporary chalk mural in Philly, Stanley was reminded of an annual street painting festival in Elmira, New York, where he grew up.

Stanley decided to start one in Philly after learning the city didn’t already have one.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the Philadelphia artist community through job losses, commission losses, canceled events, anxiety and isolation. With no end to the pandemic in sight, [I] began planning a street festival that spreads artwork throughout the community, and gives artists a platform to safely showcase their talent,” he said. “The festival is also a great way to drive foot traffic to local businesses, without encouraging crowds forming in a central location.” 

Stanley is one of 14 artists who will showcase a variety of artistic styles and actively create their murals durings the event. 

Individuals can go on a self-guided tour and watch the murals come alive before their eyes and take a complete stroll once everything is finished.

Free parking can be found at Rivers Casino.

Rivers Casino and the Fishtown Business Improvement District are co-presenting the event.

The event is co-sponsored by Mural Arts Philadelphia and Painted Bride Art Center. Additional support for the event comes from The Kensington Voice, Fabrika, The International Bar, Community College of Philadelphia, Monkey Club, Coral Street Arts House and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, and a GoFundMe campaign.

“The Fishtown District is proud to sponsor the event with the Rivers Casino in order to promote the arts, and generate corridor vitality,” said Marc Collazzo, executive director at Fishtown Kensington Area BID. “With the uncertainty of the past several months, I continue to be amazed by the resilience and strength of our stakeholders, residents and patrons of the Fishtown/Kensington communities as they not only survive the effects of the pandemic upon our local economy, but use their creativity and perseverance to make our District the envy of the region.”

All of the artists will receive a stipend for participating, and the festival will provide all of the supplies.

For a city that’s still in the midst of a health crisis, the Philadelphia Chalk Festival is the perfect opportunity to boost your mental health while supporting individuals whose livelihood has been deeply impacted.

The overall goals of the event are to highlight Philadelphia artists and give them a paid opportunity during this tough time, drive business to the area, keep everyone safe and spread out, and bring some joy to the community,” Rose said. “Creating a safe, fun and free way for people to enjoy artwork while artists and businesses benefit is good for everyone.”

Philadelphia Chalk Festival will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14, from noon to 4 p.m. The rain date for the 2020 Chalk Festival is Saturday, Nov. 21. For more details about the artists or the event, visit https://www.phillychalkfest.com/.

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