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  • Writer's pictureSarah Martin

Chalk up a good time - Lake Worth Street Painting Festival

For the past 35 years, the streets of Lake Worth have played host to the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival, which is the largest chalk drawing festival in the country and one of Lake Worth’s most treasured traditions. With over 25,000 participants and spectators attending each year, it has become a truly awe-inspiring event that allows visitors to watch artists create intricate masterpieces while they wait in line to be transformed into living works of art themselves.

How it all began

With its origins in 16th century Italy, the street art tradition's primary contributors were the Madonnari, a group of traveling artists that drew chalk images of the Madonna. Locally, the street painting traditions began in 1994 by a small group of residents aiming to improve the community through art. Now, the Lake Worth Street Painting Festival is the country's largest festival of its kind, attracting over 100,000 visitiors each year.

Kids will love this event

This beloved festival is enjoyed by children along with their parents. Children of all ages are given the opportunity to create their own art alongside the hired artist, creating their own masterpieces. Their contribution to the city will last until the next rainfall, potentially several weeks.

Things to do at the festival

The festival includes live music, professional street art, a food court, and hands on art activities for kids. Artists from across Florida, and even a few from as far away as California and Canada, have shown up to showcase their work. Art enthusiasts who go there will be able to purchase hand-drawn reproductions of classic masterpieces for $10 or less.

Things to eat and drink at the festival

The street art festival offers a "food court" with numerous food options to fit your needs. Typical festival foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and funnel cakes are easy to find along with Greek favorites like gyros and lamb pitas. As a vice from the Florida heat, beer tents are set up around the food court!

A little bit about street painting, its history, and philosophy

Street painting is a unique art form with an interesting history. It’s most commonly associated with street art, but that term is broad and often misused, referring to murals as well as other installations that aren’t on streets. Though it can be done in any public place—private property owners have actually taken to paying street painters to brighten up dull buildings—street painting began in Europe more than 1,000 years ago and has since been embraced by artists around the world.

The Italian madonnari were visual counterparts of minstrels, painting religious pictures with chalk, charcoal, and colored stones on paved public squares. Their work is tied to the history of Italian religious art. For centuries they were true folk artists, however, they suffered many hardships and were reduced in number during the second world war.

The art form was then revitalized due to the International Street Painting Festival in Grazie di Curtatone in Northern Italy. Eventually street painting spread from Italy to cities around the world including New York City, and our very own Lake Worth Beach.

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