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Something to chalk about


Photo Credit: ARCHIVE PHOTO - This year is the fifth anniversary of the Gervais Festival, which features streets lined with chalk art. This years event, held Sept. 6, will be the first time the sidewalk chalk art will be judged in three categories: Best Gervais Pride, Most Colorful and Most Original.It has been five years since the city of Gervais started its summer chalk festival, and all accounts point to this year’s event being the best yet.

The annual event, which kicks off just after the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, invites children, adults and everyone in between from throughout the region to Fourth Street in downtown Gervais on Sept. 6 to take part in a variety of fun events being hosted from noon to 6 p.m.

The Gervais Festival was formerly known as the Gervais Sidewalk Chalk Festival through the first few years of the event, but organizers shortened the name for the sake of brevity and to let festival-goers know that the summer extravaganza is about more than just chalk art.

“We’re trying to include more things and not necessarily keep it to just chalk,” event organizer Marissa Gainer said. “It started out only as chalk, but it’s expanded and we’re trying to be open. It’s the whole town’s event.”

The event has something for everybody. The athletic types are invited to watch or sign up for the 3-on-3 youth basketball tournament hosted by the Latino Education and Recreation Network (LEaRN), now in its third year of action at the festival.

“Since we’ve added the basketball, that’s definitely drawn more people and a different crowd,” Gainer said. “When the games are going, there’s a lot of people down there watching the games, and then the younger families are on the other end doing arts and crafts.”

Tournament brackets for both boys and girls teams are still open for athletes from third grade up through high school seniors. A maximum of four players per team are allowed, and registration costs $25 per team, with all proceeds going to LEaRN’s goal of providing scholarships to graduating seniors in the region seeking post high school education.

For those seeking arts and crafts, a variety of local vendors line the street every year showcasing their wares. Many returning vendors come back each year to the festival and have already filled most of the available spots, but organizers are saving room for young entrepreneurs who want to be a part of the festival.

Photo Credit: ARCHIVE PHOTO - The 3-on-3 basketball tournament returns, raising money for the Latino Education and Recreation Network scholarships. “We’re trying to get the young people in town involved,” Gainer said. “For their first year they can have a booth, charge whatever they want and it’s free.”

Further entertainment includes live music, a salsa dance demonstration, and the returning bicycle rodeo and car seat clinic hosted by the Gervais Police Department that includes inspections and proper adjustments for free.

New to the festival this year is a demonstration of Mexican dance hosted by local elementary school students, a bingo competition at 4 p.m. in the old police department and The Bubble Man.

“The Bubble Man brings huge wands and does giant bubbles for the kids,” Gainer said.

But of course the main attraction is still the colorful art that will ultimately line the streets of downtown Gervais by the end of the day.

Artists of all ages and skill levels can sign up to reserve a sidewalk square and purchase chalk through the city for either $3 for a tray of 12 colors or $6 for 24 pieces of chalk. While the festival begins at noon, artists may arrive at 10 a.m. to begin their drawings in time to get them finished by the peak of the festival at 2 p.m.

For the first time this year, organizers have partnered with the Woodburn Art Center to judge the artistic pieces in three categories: Best Gervais Pride, Most Colorful and Most Original. The final category is for artists under the age of 18, while the other two are open to all artists.

Judges from Woodburn Art Center will choose the winners, who will receive gift certificates for local businesses.

“We wanted to give people a reason to come out and chalk and win something,” Gainer said.

The event is being sponsored by the Gervais Telephone Company, which partners with the French Prairie Community Progress Team, LEaRN and the city of Gervais to put on the festival. To sign up for sidewalk space and chalk, call Gervais Telephone at 503-792-3611, email Gainer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or register online at datavision.coop/about-us/community-events.

Basketball teams can register by Sept. 4 at www.learnetwork.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Phil Hawkins covers sports and the city of Gervais. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1194.