After growing into the largest chalk-art festival in the world over its 27-year history, the Pasadena Chalk Festival has a fun new twist this weekend to keep this year’s edition fresh. The Light Bringer Project, a longtime Pasadena nonprofit which runs the festival, is teaming with new sponsor Tillamook County Creamery Association to offer cash prizes to the winners for the first time.    

The association, which has long been acclaimed for its delicious array of cheeses, is expanding into launching a line of ice cream flavors and is using the festival as one of its promotional launching pads for the new endeavor. They’ll have free samples available throughout the weekend, but the bigger allure for the hundreds of artists coming to make the city’s sidewalks sparkle is the $5,000 in cash they’ll be divvying up among award-winners across various categories at the end of the two-day event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday as a perfect destination for Father’s Day weekend.

“Tillamook is bringing their Yum Bus,  a retro looking van with a ’60s love vibe, from which they’re going to serve a flight of ice cream for free, which is kind of a fancy word for ice cream cone,” says Patty Hurley, co-founder of the Light Bringer Project. “Artists are very excited about it, because anything cold like that is a welcome treat in the heat, but they’re even more excited about cash.

“We usually have really nice prizes for the artists including Jet Blue airline tickets, hotel stays or dinners at Ruth’s Chris Steak House,” she adds. “This year for the top winner, the artist award and the people’s choice award, are going to get cash prizes for the first time in 27 years, which will make the awards really fun. They wanted to contribute to the artists directly which is a really cool thing, and many last-minute artists have jumped in.”

The festival has grown to include an average of 600 artist teams in recent years, with crowds of up to 50,000 attending to admire an incredibly vibrant array of art made with more than 25,000 pieces of colored chalk. The extravagant results fill the plazas of the Paseo outdoor mall and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, while the 18th Annual Pasadena Police Classic Car Show returns with an array of classic cars along Green Street between Los Robles and Marengo avenues from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The fest’s Kids Make Art section, near El Cholo restaurant at the Paseo, is expanding this year to include more art-making opportunities, with the chance to have families sharing in painting, drawing or coloring and special tote bags available for kids to paint in their own imaginative designs.  In addition, this year’s fest will feature drones taking aerial photos of artworks for the first time ever, while many artists are starting to create stop-motion photography of their creative process that will be uploaded to the festival’s YouTube channel as well.

Add in an eclectic assortment of live music on two stages throughout both days of the festival and the fact that all proceeds benefit the Light Bringer Project’s numerous arts programs throughout Los Angeles County public schools, and it’s no wonder that this has become a permanent highlight on the Pasadena cultural calendar.

“I’m sure this event is a real love fest for Pasadena, because every year people say ‘This is why I moved to Pasadena,’ or ‘I look forward to this every year,’ and people are always discovering by chance or friends bringing friends here for first time each year,” says Hurley.  “What’s nice is the murals stay up for a couple days after so people can also come look in the quiet.”


The Pasadena Chalk Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Paseo, 300 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. The 18th Annual Pasadena Police Classic Car Show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday along Green Street between Los Robles and Marengo avenues. Admission is free. Visit pasadenachalkfestival.com.