Venice agrees to host 2014 chalk festival

  • 1

VENICE, Fla. -- The Chalk Festival is coming to Venice. Tuesday, city leaders approved the week-long event, which is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to town. But there have been some concerns as far as roads, traffic, and where the event will be held.

Right now the event is planned to be held in three locations from November 10th through the 17th. Organizers say they will be working for the next few months to solidify a plan, which includes shuttling visitors around to avoid a traffic nightmare.

"I think we would be foolish not to try it." Council member Dave Sherman knows the real work for the week-long event, which in the past has drawn in over 200,000 attendees, now begins. "It's going to have to be a huge partnership between the city and this group in order to make it work."

After years in Sarasota, founder Denise Kowal says she actually hopes the numbers are a little lower. "We don't know what to expect as far as attendance. We do know a lot of people come up from the south to attend the Sarasota Chalk Festival."

Kowal, who says in years past the event has had a $10 million local impact still plans to bring in 500-plus artists. "98% of them are okay with this."

Kat Quast with Venice Main Street says it's an easy sell. "You look at the art, you look at the shops, you get something to eat…you don't have vendors you are buying from."

The biggest concern for everyone is traffic and parking. They're going to try and park everyone at the airport festival grounds, which will have a display. Then a shuttle will take visitors to the Venice Art Center, where children and families can take part in activities. Then another stop where the main work will be done downtown, where half of Miami Avenue will closed and the art chalked right on the street.

"If this works, then we can use this model to shuttle people to our art festivals and everything else."

Kowal says downtown where people gather is the point. "We hear that a lot…why don't we just do it in a parking lot somewhere away from everybody so you don't create traffic? You know, downtowns were created from people to come together."

With the nod from the city and most businesses, they’re hoping now for everyone else. "We have a lot of support. We look forward to the community supporting us as well."

Chalk Festival Thursday 18.JPG