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Gervais kicks into high gear with fourth annual festival

The fourth year of Gervais’ festival featuring sidewalk chalk art is gearing up for another successful event this Saturday.by: HARRY LEE KWAI - This girl was among dozens who took part in creating sidewalk chalk art at Gervais' downtown festival last year. This year's festival will be Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Harry Lee Kwai, festival director, said the only new thing this year will be the entertainer and master of ceremonies. Doc Titus, who is based in Salem, works around the country as a DJ and entertainer. He will serve as master of ceremonies throughout the day, which lasts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We had him here at the Gervais Fourth of July,” Lee Kwai said. “He’s doing the whole thing. He’s a very, very talented entertainer.”

Elm and Fourth streets in Gervais will be blocked off for food vendors, sales vendors, arts and crafts booths, a storytime corner and, of course, sidewalk chalk.

Anyone can leave their mark on the sidewalks of Gervais, with a tray of 12 pieces of chalk costing $3 and a tray of 24 costing $6.

“The thing that makes our festival unique from other festivals in the area is the sidewalk chalk art,” Lee Kwai said. “We get 60 to 70 chalk artists, children, families. It’s just great.”

He expressed interest in bringing a professional artist to the festival someday.

“We hope to find someone to come with that level of talent to inspire people to get more into the arts,” Lee Kwai said.

The Gervais Police Department will put on a bicycle rodeo and car seat clinic, which includes inspections and proper adjustments, for free.

The French Prairie Community Progress Team will be providing storytelling for kids through the Marion County Reading for All initiative.

The day will also feature a 3-on-3 youth basketball tournament, courtesy of Latino Education and Recreation Network (LEaRN), an event that was added for the first time last year.

The cost is $25 per team and the event is open to any young people in grades 3-12. For more information, visit www.learnetwork.org.

Another popular event is an arts and crafts area, which offers free hands-on activities for both adults and children, from “hatstravaganza,” which is the creating and decorating of paper hats, to making pendants using Scrabble tiles.

“It’s so they can create something that they can then take home,” Lee Kwai explained. “It’s all run by volunteers.”

Lee Kwai said it’s hard to pinpoint the number of volunteers, but there is a core group on the festival committee that has worked to make this happen: Mariana Ruiz, Micky Wagner, Shanti Platt, Pam Milam, Petra Vela and Elias Villegas.

“This (festival) is unique in that I have never been to one where you see people from ages 2 to 80 down on the ground, creating their vision of a masterpiece in a block of sidewalk,” said Wagner, who has lived in Gervais for nearly eight years. “There is no other word to describe our festival except for ‘fun-filled.’”

Lee Kwai, who is also manager of marketing and sales for Gervais Telephone and Datavision Communications, the main sponsors of the festival, came up with the idea of a chalk festival a number of years ago.

He said he read somewhere about chalk art and thought it sounded neat, so he scribbled the idea on a piece of paper and stuck it in his wallet.

It sat there for three or four years, he said.

“When someone approached me from Gervais about doing an event, I pulled out this note and said, ‘Why don’t we do a festival,’” he said. “We went from there. Gervais just needs something to lift its spirit. They’ve never had their own thing. And this is just the greatest thing.”

Although it has been called the Gervais Sidewalk Chalk Festival, Lee Kwai said he prefers to simply call it Gervais Festival featuring sidewalk chalk art, among other activities.

“It’s evolving,” he explained. “Every year we try to add something new. Chalk art is just one of the featured events of the festival.”

Other sponsors and partners include Chemeketa Community College, French Prairie Community Progress Team LEaRN and the city of Gervais, but Lee Kwai pointed out that profit is not the motive of this event.

“It’s to create a good spirit and pride in the community,” he said.



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  • 25 Nov 2014

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