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Chalk goes Gangnam Style as a Chalk.a.Lot participant poses with a chalk rendering of Psy, a popular South Korean singer. The Two Harbors festival, which invites professional and amateur artists alike to cover sidewalks with chalk art, will be celebrating its third year in Two Harbors this weekend. Photo / Waterfront Gallery

Third annual Chalk.a.Lot festival kicks off today in Two Harbors

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features Duluth, 55802
Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

Lisa from “The Simpsons” brings her trademark saxophone to her lips. Just down the street, Edward Scissorhands lurks under a starry night sky.

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This isn’t a television-meets-Hollywood crossover. It was the scene at last year’s sidewalk chalk festival in Two Harbors, which returns for its third year Saturday.

“Chalk.a.Lot” gives residents and tourists alike the chance to turn the sidewalk along Waterfront Drive into their own personal canvas for chalk art.

“It’s not intimidating,” said Michelle Ronning, the festival’s organizer. “You can have fun viewing art and exploring it.”

For $15, customers get a box of 48 pastel chalks, latex gloves, sponges for blending and a 5-by-6-foot slab of sidewalk. Organizers will be on hand to assist the artists, and instructional classes will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. this afternoon in Two Harbors.

Artists of all skill levels are welcome, Ronning said. Last year, drawings ranged from Disney characters, to a tropical sunset, to the re-creation of a Picasso.

“It’s really not fair to pick favorites,” Ronning said. “They’re all really great. Everybody did their own interpretation of what they wanted to do that day.”

The opportunity to brighten up the streets of Two Harbors attracts a mix of young and old, residents and tourists, and groups and individuals, Ronning said. Those younger than 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Drawing lasts from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and for the first time, artists can come back and finish their creations from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday.

Customers can register on-site the day of the festival or online through the Two Harbors Community Education website.

Part of the street also will be blocked off as space for free-form drawings. By the end of the day Saturday, the pavement usually is littered with chalk outlines of people’s bodies. It might resemble an active crime scene, but it’s just another way for visitors to leave their mark.

While rain tends to wash away the chalk art found on most residential sidewalks and driveways, Ronning said art made with the festival chalk is able to better withstand the elements.

“The drawings last for weeks,” she said. “Sometimes even months.”

Expert consultation

But that didn’t stop Ronning from taking every precaution when choosing a day for the annual festival. She didn’t want the artists to get rained out before they could even put chalk to pavement, so she went to an expert.

“I consulted a weatherman a couple years ago and said, ‘Give me the best weekend without rain all summer,’ ” Ronning said. “He did a history report and said, ‘The third weekend in July.’ It’s probably the best chance for no rain.”

This year’s festival will include music, food vendors and demonstrations by mime and origami artists. Awards also will be given for the top three drawings in the categories of Artist Choice and People’s Choice, all thanks to a donation by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Ronning said. The event also received sizable grants from Cooperative Light and Power, the city of Two Harbors and ShopKo.

Artists from cities as far away as Madison are making the trip to give downtown Two Harbors a splash of color, Ronning said. Nearly 70 drawings dotted the sidewalk last summer, a number Ronning said she expects to double this year.

“The weekend is about experiencing art as a process rather than a product,” she said. “Art can be entertaining, as well as a piece that you hang on your wall.”

IF YOU GO

What: Chalk.a.Lot

Where: Waterfront Drive, Two Harbors

When: Today-Sunday July 18-20.

2-5 p.m. today: Clinics

8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday: Registration and drawing time

8 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday: Drawing time

$15 to participate. Includes chalk and sidewalk panel.

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