PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — A new festival will add to the tri-state’s plethora of summer arts and entertainment activities and push one community’s creative goals to fruition.

The Platteville Arts, Trails and History project, known as PATH, will host its inaugural Chalk & Cheese Fest — a one-day outdoor art, food and music festival — on Saturday, June 22, in Platteville’s City Park.

The event will celebrate the completion of the Platteville Creative Community Plan and serve as a kickoff for incorporating more arts and culture into community life.

It’s an effort several years in the making.

“In late 2015 and early 2016, a group of community members started talking about opportunities Platteville could explore for incorporating more arts and culture into the community,” said Angie Wright, a project manager for PATH and a communications specialist with the Mining and Rollo Jamison Museums. “We began looking into the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant and decided that it would be a good fit for what we were trying to do in the community.”

Through project-based funding, the grant “supports projects that integrate arts, culture and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical and/or social outcomes,” according to its website.

The Platteville group met during a period of two to three months to develop potential PATH initiatives, applying for the grant in August 2017 and ultimately securing $25,000 in funding.

“Through open houses, focus groups and surveys to the general public, as well as those in the creative sector, we were able to get a lot of great feedback about the kinds of things people wanted to see in the community,” Wright said. “A chalk festival, as well as events with food and live music, came up several times. This is a celebration of something that came out of a lot of community input.”

Among the offerings at Chalk & Cheese Fest will be nationally recognized artists and emerging local creators, with the chalk festival open to participants of all ages and abilities. Artists will be able to create colorful artwork on the sidewalks in and around City Park. And visitors will be able to watch the art as it manifests, as well as vote on their favorite creations.

“The top winners in adult and youth categories will win a bag of goodies from Platteville businesses,” Wright said.

In addition to participants, the event also will feature five commissioned, professional chalk artists that will create larger works. They include Craig and Jamie Rogers, of Richland Center; John Soukup, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Shelley Heath, of Milwaukee; and Sarah Piper, of La Crosse.

A cheese carver also will create a sculpture out of a 40-pound block of cheese.

Regional cheeses also will be available to sample throughout the day, as well as food trucks and live music from 3 to 7 p.m.

“I think what’s unique about this festival is the participatory feature,” Wright said. “Anybody can come and draw, and it’s an idea that came from people in the community. The goal is for it to be attractive to both residents and people coming from outside of the community. We’re excited about hosting an event like that.”

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