Beth Zwolski Tobias, known as “The Chalk Girl”, meets with Malinda Batassa, 12, of Trevor, during the first annual Wilmot Chalk Festival on Monday, May 28 (Jason Arndt/The Report).

Wilmot festival draws dozens

By Jason Arndt

Dozens of young and aspiring artists made the sidewalk their canvas May 28, when they participated in the first annual Wilmot Chalk Festival, hosted by Hansen’s Ice Cream Parlor and “The Chalk Girl.”

The first annual event, which drew about 50 children from 6 through 18, sought to bring together the community, including businesses and families.

Each child registered were given two hours to draw on a sidewalk square using sidewalk chalk.

Hansen’s Ice Cream Parlor co-owner Kelly Hansen, who operates the business with her husband Adam, said the event exceeded her expectations.

“I was almost brought to tears when I looked out there and saw all of those families sitting there and spending time together,” said Hansen.

As for “The Chalk Girl”, she is Beth Zwolski Tobias, of Trevor.

Megan Miltimore, 14, of Spring Grove, Ill. etches a design inspired by dandelions onto a sidewalk during the first annual Wilmot Chalk Festival (Jason Arndt/The Report).

Tobias, formerly of Libertyville, Ill., attended Columbia College in Chicago before moving to Trevor with her husband Kyle.

She designed the ice cream parlor’s menu board when the establishment opened last year.

Tobias, a chalk artist of about 10 years, discovered her passion for using concrete as a canvas during a lull period.

“It all started because I was bored and I went outside and drew on my sidewalk,” she said. “I like the art that I do, I do really big murals and take big photos of them and sell the prints.”

Through her artistic journey, Tobias started attended Comic Con Conventions, where participants and celebrities alike showed an interest in her work.

Some celebrities, she said, included cast members from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Walking Dead.”

“I will draw while I am there and it draws in a lot of people,” she said. “They like to watch the process.”

When people ask what tools she uses, they are astonished, considered sidewalk chalk is not a typical artistic tool.

“When I meet people, and they look at the art and think it is really cool, I tell them it is sidewalk chalk,” she said. “They flip out.”

Aside from promoting “The Chalk Girl”, Tobias works at Six Flags Great American in Gurnee, where she serves as a special effects makeup artist for Fright Fest.

Tobias, who spent time illustrating artistic designs on the sidewalk, met with the aspiring artists.

Eva Zack, 14, of Antioch, Ill. drew inspiration from her day at the beach on Sunday, drawing an ocean theme.

For Trevor’s Malinda Batassa, 14, she decided to illustrate her favorite items, like the American Flag.

The turnout, and dedication, left Tobias impressed.

“I love how many people came out, we were not expecting nearly this many to come, but we probably ended up with about 50 kids,” she said. “There are plenty of kids out here still drawing and I love that dedication.”

Although the first annual event drew to a close, Tobias and the Hansen’s have bigger plans next year, when they hope to see more people and businesses join in.

“I am already looking forward to the second annual Wilmot Chalk Festival, I am hoping that we could eventually use the sidewalks across the street,” said Hansen. “I am hoping we can get more sponsors and more vendors here next year.”

Sponsors included Sandlots of Salem, Don’s Garage, Colony House, Monkey Aerial Arts, Spring Valley Country Club, Airbrush One.

The sponsors, according to Hansen, contributed raffles at the event.

Proceeds collected from the raffle prizes will be donated to The Sharing Center in Trevor.

The Hansens have four children: Julia, Erin, Madelyn and Walker.


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