Hemet celebrates community with Chalktober Art Festival

Hemet’s Chalktober Art Festival drew much talent to the Hemet Public Library parking lot on Saturday, Oct. 28. Valley News/Diane A. Rhodes photo

Costumed children and creative artists filled the Hemet Public Library parking lot on Saturday, Oct. 28 to enjoy the city of Hemet’s first ever Chalktober Art Festival. A highlight was the chalk art competition taking place at taped off areas of the blacktop, sidewalk and courtyard. Artists could sign up from noon until the contest closed at 4 p.m., an hour before the event ended. A variety of subjects were suggested such as pumpkin patch, Halloween, changing seasons and something they were thankful for, but artists were free to draw whatever they wanted.

Jose Noe made a colorful bowl full of noodles with a twist. He set up a viewfinder station that allowed visitors to see his artwork in 3D, adding a touch of delicious realism to his piece. Rylene Rosales depicted the video game character Pikmin in a pumpkin patch. This was her first time creating an art piece with chalk on such a large concrete canvas. Rylene also volunteered at the event, helping to set things up and direct vendors to their stations before the festival began.

Artist Zander Marville decided to go with a graffiti art style with their initials standing out from the colorful background. “I do a lot of digital art so this medium is a little different,” Zander said. “It’s a little more precise but I’m used to painting on a bigger scale.” Zander is a member of the Mt. San Jacinto College Art Club that had a booth set up at the festival to showcase some of the members’ artwork, from painting to ceramics.

The club’s advisor is John Knuth, an artist himself who is also an art instructor at MSJC teaching drawing, ceramics, sculpture, 3D design and art history at the San Jacinto campus. “We have a core active group of 20 or so students,” Knuth said about the club. “This is our first community event; we usually have booths for campus events but Hemet reached out to us and we were glad to be included.”

A winner was to be chosen from each of the four contest levels of ages 6-9, 10-13, 14-18 and group which could have all ages to encourage families to enter. Due to all the creativity that was present within the chalk art competition, winners were not able to be decided on by the end of the event. However, they will be announced via the city’s social media channels, @hemetgov on Instagram and @cityofhemet on Facebook. The winning entry from each level will receive a gift basket filled with art supplies, tickets and passes to Hemet events and more goodies.

As an intern for the office of City Manager Mark Prestwich, Jade Trejos worked closely with intern Demi Olsen to organize and facilitate the event. She said they pitched the idea to the city after coming on board and reading through the Strategic Plan that contains 84 items to bring the community together and improve conditions throughout. Trejos was born and raised in Hemet.

“My father is very artistic, so he helped guide me with a lot of what I brought to the event,” Trejos said. “I was hired in July, so this is my first real government experience and my first citywide event. The goal is to bring more experiences like this to our hometown. It is nice to see it go from paper to real life. So far, so great!”

Local merchants were invited to set up booths to interact with guests. Raising Cane’s, Starbucks, Jess of Cakes and Hemet’s Best Street Tacos shared details about their yummy offerings and had some available to eat as well. Other vendors included local small independent businesses such as Lulubug Boutique which offers homemade bath and body products as well as seasonal candles and more. Owner Kathy Goodrich said the company started about three years ago. Vincent and Phyllis Oliveri operate Oliveri Crafts in Hemet. The couple met while serving in the Marine Corps, stationed in North Carolina. Their unique handcrafted wood items run the gamut from signs to small statues; Vincent said the most popular request he gets is for cornhole game boards.

Julia Rury with Willdebietz Music Conservatory was helping children make jingle sticks, tambourines and rubber band harmonicas. She and her husband William opened their private music education center on North Harvard in 2020 and offer one-on-one private lessons and ensemble classes for children and adults. For more information, www.willdebietz.com.

Members of the Hemet Valley Art Association displayed many great photographs, paintings and other pieces made by members while sharing that they offer Kid’s Project Art Classes on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon for ages 8-14. For more information on November’s classes at the Downtown Hemet gallery, contact Lizeth Benitez at 562-394-5551. HVA is also offering Children’s Art: Clay Sculpting featuring “Monsters” through Dec. 18 on Saturdays from 1-3 p.m. for those 8-12 years old. To enroll, call 239-682-2708.

Hemet Public Library volunteers offered a craft table where hot pads could be stamped with Halloween-themed figures such as bats, pumpkins and witches. There was a face painting table that even Hemet City Council member Linda Krupa took advantage of by having some stylish blue swirls added to her cheek that matched her outfit. She was also one of the judges for the chalk art competition, joined by Hemet Mayor Pro Tem Malcolm Lilienthal.

Hemet Police volunteers had two booths offering giveaways, candy and cornhole games. The group was hosting a Trunk or Treat event in the same area later that evening so they were reminding all the families to return for some fun after dark. DJ Alex with Hemet’s TDUB Entertainment kept the upbeat tunes playing throughout the afternoon.

A crowd favorite was the pumpkin painting. All guests could pick out a pumpkin from a variety of different sizes and shapes and tables were set up with an array of paints to use. Adults were also given recipe cards for homemade pumpkin pie, a reminder that pumpkins are good for more than just decorating. Trejos said they received donations from Grocery Outlet West and Cal Poly Pomona. “They helped to supply us with larger pumpkins that helped to decorate the event,” she said. “These pumpkins, around 100, were then given out to families at Hemet Police Department’s Trunk or Treat event.”

She said about 200 pumpkins were purchased from Eagle Eye Produce in Hemet for the public painting and all of them were used. Most were kid-sized, making it very easy for even the youngest children to create a colorful masterpiece on their pumpkin of choice.

“We had roughly 15 volunteers helping with set up and booth maintenance throughout the whole of the event,” Trejos said. “Many of these volunteers were high school students from Alessandro, West Valley, Tahquitz and Western Center Academy. It was through the coordination of the Hemet Unified School District that we were able to bridge a gap between our government, community, service and town pride.”

For more information, www.hemetca.gov, @hemetgov on Instagram and @cityofhemet on Facebook.

Diane A. Rhodes