Art will hit the pavement during a physically distanced Chalk It Up festival

Traditionally over Labor Day weekend, the sidewalk around midtown’s Fremont Park becomes a concrete canvas for underfoot artworks during the annual Chalk It Up art and music festival. However, with the pandemic affecting social gatherings, this year’s 30th annual event, which takes place Sept. 5-7, will spill out across Sacramento and beyond, expanding to more than 80 spots around the region, and dispersing—with physical-distancing panache—the 25,000-strong crowds that have historically attended the festival. 

“People have always come to midtown for the event, but this year we are bringing it out into the community—Lincoln, Land Park, Elk Grove, West Sacramento—and it’s really exciting,” says Chalk It Up executive director Christy Jourdan. “I love that we’re introducing the festival to a whole new audience.” 

More than 25,000 people have attended the festival each day in past years. (Photo courtesy of Chalk It Up)

An interactive map at will guide you and your quarantine crew to works on the pedestrian walkway in front of downtown’s Esquire IMAX theater, under the Golden 1 Center overhang at DoCo, and at the entrance to East Sacramento’s V. Miller Meats. Artists will also scatter to the suburbs—look for chalk art to emblazon the grounds of the Sacramento Children’s Museum in Rancho Cordova and the transportation nonprofit North Natomas Jibe. Residential driveways are considered canvases too—there are seven private homes hosting artwork this year. Works of yore have included a pixelated portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a watercolor-like landscape of the Sacramento River Delta, a peacock with kaleidoscopic feathers, and a black-and-white photorealistic depiction of Bill Murray. (The finished artworks will also be uploaded to the map over the weekend for a complete virtual tour.)   

The music portion of the yearly celebration, which raises money for Chalk It Up’s youth art grants, is going virtual as well—tune into the event website, YouTube, Facebook Live or Periscope to catch livestreamed sets from 20 area acts like punk outfit Killer Couture, Americana singer-songwriter Jessica Malone and New Orleans jazz group The FreeBadge Serenaders. 

Chalk It Up attendees will see chalk renditions of everything from landscapes to portraits to prismatic animals. (Photo courtesy of Chalk It Up)

Despite the challenges of putting together this year’s event, Jourdan thinks this could pave the way for festivals yet to come in a post-pandemic world. 

“I love the big, hippie-dippie festival at Fremont Park, and we’ll never stray from that completely,” she says. “But I would love to see Chalk It Up become a tradition for our entire region. That would be so magical.” 

Free. Sept. 5-7.

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