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Sugar House Journal

Annual Utah Chalk Art Festival for Foster Care mixes outreach with artistry

Jul 26, 2021 15h09 ● By Lizzie Walie

Koi Fish, Caption- Local talent took to the sidewalks of The Gateway to showcase their skills. The public voted for winners in multiple categories. (Lizzie Walje/City Journals)

By Lizzie Walje | [email protected]

Not even the aftermath of a global pandemic or the heatwave of June could put a damper on Utah’s 19th Annual Chalk Art Festival for Foster Care. Festival goers arrived and joined in, including artists competing in the chalk art contest. 

The contest was just one of many activities that occurred at the Gateway Mall on June 18 and 19. Children and adults alike took to the surrounding areas to flex their artistic muscles with chalk, take respite in the oasis of the water fountain, and marvel at the artistry of Salt Lake’s local talent. The Chalk Art Festival takes place every year, with 2021’s tagline being “let’s chalk about it.”

The event helps to spread information on foster care in Utah, which is an ongoing need.   

In Utah, there are more than 2,600 kids in foster care at any given time. Nearly all of these kids come from unstable homes where abuse is prevalent. Most notably, substance abuse is cited as the most common cause for a child’s removal. Utah Foster Care continues to strengthen community ties through targeted outreach and events like the Chalk Art Festival.

For many, becoming a foster parent has proven to be life changing. It certainly was for festival-goer Kim Espinoza, a foster parent who proudly proclaimed, “Becoming a foster parent changed me for the better. I encourage anyone who’s ever considered doing it to take the plunge.” 

Espinoza also addressed the need for nurturing, competent foster parents. “I’ve fostered children who came through other foster homes. Some of these homes were full of the very abuse these kids were taken out of. It’s tough but we can’t shy away from the issues in our own organization. Talking about it means talking about all of it, the wonderful and the not so wonderful.” 

At the festival, artists crafted everything from bright and energizing landscapes to portraits of iconic children’s characters like Mickey Mouse. As patrons took in the collection of pieces, they were able to vote for those they liked the best. Subsequently, several awards were presented including a Youth Best In Show, which went to the young artist Natalie Pope. 

There are many ways for the public to become involved and spread awareness that doesn’t require actual fostering. Utah Foster Care takes donations and needs volunteer at events, or with assisting families, in addition to sharing on social media. 

The festival will be back next year to celebrate its 20th year. In the meantime, information is available at Utah Foster Care’s website