top of page

573 Chalk Art Festival is back!

As a kid, I’m sure you remember drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, creating free-spirited works of art—an acceptable alternative to drawing on the walls.  Parents are cool with chalk because it’s so temporary—one squirt of the hose or a little rain and the drawings are history.  For kids, the magic is in the creating, not the final product.  Well, fast forward a few years, and while all of those kids grew up, some never lost their love for street art.   And the magic is still in the doing. 

The 573 Chalk Art Festival started with the idea of creating a community event doing chalk art, but it has grown into something much bigger.  It’s a fine art show with chocolate, wine, cake walks, music, and lots of art activities for families to do together.  And this year, we are holding the festival in Marquand, Missouri, with special former mayor Denny Ward. 

ZuZu showing fingers with chalk
Get you hands dirty!
Girl in yellow shirt sitting by chalk art
Kids draw free.
Lady sitting in the shade of a tree by a chalk drawing of a tree
All ages and skill levels.
Man on hands and knees doing a chalk drawing of a black panther
Large contest squares for a cash prize.
Two girls creating chalk art drawings on street pavement
Free chalk donated by 573 Magazine.
A girl sitting on the pavement making a rock cairn
Stone stacking contests.

Young and old, professional and amateur artists will come to display their talents this October 12th in downtown Marquand.  They start with empty squares of asphalt and by the end of the day, these squares are transformed into interesting pieces of artwork.  A brilliant display of talent will line the streets.  The pavement will be swirled with vibrant miniature chalk murals.  Onlookers will come from all over the area and St. Louis to look over the artists as they work.  There is something pure about the whole process—nothing saved, nothing to buy, no big payoff—just art for art’s sake.

Slide show from a past Chalk Festival in Ste Geneivive.
A serous look on the face of Denny Ward.
We met up with Denny Ward to tell us about Marquand.

My name is Denny Ward. I was born and raised in Marquand as the second oldest child in a family of thirteen.  Growing up in Marquand was much akin to living in Mayberry.  The townsfolk were of the generation that had weathered The Great Depression and had great morals, values, and work ethic.  My childhood was a wonderland spent exploring the Castor River, Kelley’s Cave, and Mark Twain National Forest, identifying flora and fauna, and engraining myself in the rich historic past of our community.  Needless to say, I’ve had a love affair with Marquand since my earliest days of living and growing up there. 


Fast forward, and today, I am the Executive Director of Southeast Missouri Transportation Service, a nonprofit organization that provides Rural Public Transportation in twenty-one counties.  SMTS is the second largest rural transit provider in the nation.  I also serve as President of the Mineral Area Council on the Arts, Past-President of the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies, Secretary to Marquand Development Corporation, Program Director of Homan Hall Performing Arts Center in Marquand, and President of the Board of Trustees at Madison Medical Center.  My home was the former Reagan Hotel, a railroad hotel for the community that was built in 1879 and operated as a hotel until 1953.  I have restored the home to reflect a simpler time in Marquand’s past when guests would have been welcomed for meals, which were served family style, all you can eat for $.25, or overnighted in one of the guest rooms at a rate of $1.25, which included dinner that evening and breakfast the next morning. 


Captain Henry Whitener and Mr. Michael Mouser obtained a land grant for this property, which lies along the banks of the Castor River in 1804.  It wasn’t until the advancement of The Belmont Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad in 1869 that the Whitener Settlement changed its name to Marquand.  With this expansion, a railroad entrepreneur by the name of Henry G. Marquand came to town to help establish the branch.  Mr. Marquand was so taken with the natural beauty of the region and the kindness of the townspeople that he donated $1,000 to establish a church, which was known as the First Christian Church.  In his honor, the founding fathers lobbied to incorporate and rename the town Marquand.  Henry G. Marquand left Marquand and eventually ended up in New York City, where he helped establish the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  His portrait hangs prominently inside that museum today. 


With grassroots funding and collaboration with the City of Marquand, we developed the Marquand Historical Park.  As a landmark, we dismantled and moved the Henry & Jane (Bess) Sitze Log Homestead to the park in October of 1989, and it is the focal point for the community’s Pioneer Days Festival each fall.  Marquand offers the Castor River Ranch Campground and Highway DD Campground, which bring lots of people from the St. Louis area to enjoy the wonderful recreational opportunities of kayaking, floating, fishing, swimming, camping or just purely relaxing along the banks of the pristine waters of the Castor River, and the establishment of three B&B’s – The Belmont Inn, Aunt Kat’s and The Nutty Squirrel, Durso Hills Bistro & Winery, Num-Num’s Sweet Shop, Woodall’s Mercantile, Cannon’s Grocery and The Yellow She-Shack Mercantile, Marquand Development and The City of Marquand, along with these respective business owners, have teamed up to develop and promote tourism.  In April of this year, Marquand hosted an Eclipse Event that brought in visitors from fifteen states, as far away as Alaska, California, and Pennsylvania – it was amazing.  We are currently working on Castor River Days – A July 4th Celebration!  Our goal is to replace the Eclipse event with a Spring Fling event, grow Castor River Days, expand Pioneer Days, and add at least one or two more events to the calendar each year. 

Denny Ward smiling and wearing glasses
I also serve as President of the Mineral Area Council on the Arts...

With my passion and volunteer support for The Arts, I have followed 573’s Chalk Festival since its inception, so having the event come to Marquand is like winning some sort of award – I’m elated, and so is our community!  As we launch efforts to identify Marquand as a destination, hosting an event like the Chalk Festival, that is already established and followed regionally and nationally, is HUGE exposure for our lovely community!  The timing couldn’t be better, and we couldn’t be more excited or grateful to 573 and the magazine’s founders for choosing Marquand for this year’s event – THANK YOU!!  We will be actively looking for sponsors and cannot wait to welcome the artists and visitors to partake of our country hospitality! 

ZuZu reaching arm out as if touching 3-D chalk drawing of frog
3-D art is always a favorite.
Man adding finishing touches to beautiful chalk drawing on the street
Serious artists are welcome to show off their talent.
City of Perryville Cruise In Ad
Fisher Furniture Appliances, bedding, and furniture ad

The 573 Chalk Art Festival's Mission is to unite our region with an Arts Adventure for All Ages. An integral part of the Arts we all enjoy is the in-person, “alive” nature of your street art. We invite you to get involved, dive in, and “be part of the art!”

For serious artists, we hold a contest that will showcase the works of seasoned and emergent visual artists, as well as participants from local schools who will use chalk as their medium and the pavement of Marquand as their canvas. Over $250 in cash and prizes will be awarded. The contest is open to all ages and skill levels. Click HERE to grab your space.

Get Out There!  Paint something.  Join something. Volunteer for something.  Do something.  Do anything. What one person can do, another can do. That sunken sofa will be fine without you. 

Pics & Words - T. Smugala

573 people, places, passions logo
Be sure to visit all of our awesome sponsors who make these stories possible!

Visit Cape Girardeau Missouri ad

Hoods Discount Home Center Farmington Missouri ad

First State Community Bank Building stronger communities ad.

573 Magazine advertising and content creation


bottom of page