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2013 Chalk Festival may be the city of Sarasota's last

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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 21, 2013
Artists draw sidewalk art at this year’s Chalk Festival, which founder Denise Kowal says could be the city’s last.
Artists draw sidewalk art at this year’s Chalk Festival, which founder Denise Kowal says could be the city’s last.
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A day after the conclusion of the 2013 Sarasota Chalk Festival, founder and Chairwoman Denise Kowal emphasized how well the event went this year.

Apart from some rain on Friday and Saturday, Kowal said things ran smoothly. She was pleased with everyone from the artists to the volunteers to the visitors who attended the festival.

“We’re finally kind of getting things organized and getting a good group of people who are in tune with what we’re doing,” Kowal said. “I couldn’t be more happy.”

Embedded in all of this good news, there was a dour footnote: Kowal said this year’s chalk festival could be the last one held in the city of Sarasota. Kowal said she was eyeing Venice and other locations as a potential new home for the festival if Sarasota doesn’t show more interest in financially supporting the event next year.

Earlier this year, Kowal requested the city waive about $13,000 in city services; the commission approved a waiver of $2,780. She believes the commission should place a greater value on the exposure the chalk festival brings to the city.

“They’re the No. 1 benefactor,” Kowal said. “I named it the ‘Sarasota Chalk Festival’; people all around the world are saying ‘the Sarasota Chalk Festival.’ Nobody’s saying ‘the Denise Kowal Chalk Festival.’”

A potential hiccup arose on Dolphin Street before the festival. Although festival organizers didn’t request a closure, the city decided to close a portion of the road near Pineapple Street to vehicular traffic without notifying local businesses until this month, leading to some complaints.

David Shafer, the property manager of the building at 1530 Dolphin St., said he wasn’t concerned about the closure. He thought the Chalk Festival was good for Burns Square businesses.

“She’s basically creating a heart and soul for Burns Court,” Shafer said.

Although that heart and soul could soon be gone, Kowal said the festival would ideally stay in the city.

“I love Burns Square — this is my home,” Kowal said. “I think where it’s located is the perfect spot for the festival, but I can’t fight against the government here.”

Contact David Conway at [email protected]



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