CENTRAL CITY — Artists of all ages were out on the sidewalks of Central City Saturday expressing their imagination and creativity as part of the town’s annual Lone Tree Days celebration.
The Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest was held in front of the Central City Library.
The contest was divided up in three categories for adults, teens, and children. The artists each got a square of sidewalk for their canvas and had an hour and a half to create their works of art.
Sara Lee, library director, said this was the third year of the event. It has grown in participation each year and has become a popular Lone Tree Days event.
The event is the community’s annual Fourth of July celebration. Not only does it reflect on the nation’s heritage, but also Central City’s history.
The name Lone Tree comes from the Lone Tree Monument in Central City on the site once occupied by a large cottonwood tree, according to Wikipedia. Native Americans held council under it and pioneers, as early as 1833, used it as a landmark. It was the first official name of the county seat of Merrick County and is now marked as a historic location by the Nebraska State Historical Society.
Lee said the annual celebration draws hundreds of people to the community. There were visitors at Saturday’s event who came from Beijing, China. They were in town for a family reunion.
Lee said the event annually hosts many family reunions.
“It is nice to have people of all ages participate in the event to allow them to express their creativity,” she said. “We do the contest because we have all of these sidewalks in front of the library and it is fun to have people come in and decorate them.”
Lee said the chalk adds a wide variety of color to the artists’ creations. Using chalk also makes it easy to erase the work when a rain shower comes.
“Each year, we get more and more people, and they come up with some fabulous and creative designs,” she said.
The library also holds its annual book sale during Lone Tree Days, drawing a lot of people.
“Lone Tree Days have been going really well this year,” Lee said. “It is a very special time for the community. It is a time for celebration.”
What also makes the Sidewalk Chalk Art contest unique is it’s a family affair.
For example, two of the artists working side by side were Dyanne Medlock and her daughter Madison Felt of Central City.
It was Medlock’s first time participating in the event, though art has always been a part of her life. When her daughter, Madison, was a small child, they would sit together and draw pictures with crayons.
“It looked like a fun activity for my daughter and me to do together,” she said.
“I drew when I was a kid, and I did it with my kids when they were little,” Medlock said. “Madison is older, but it’s still fun to do it together.”
Medlock’s art was an expression of patriotism and freedom with a Fourth of July theme.
“It is an amazing way to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday,” she said.
Her daughter, Madison, said her mother has always encouraged her to use art as a way of expressing herself.
“I like to paint and draw and color,” she said.
Another sidewalk artist was 14-year-old Sofia Poulsen. She and her family live in Beijing and were in Central City to visit her grandparents. Encouraging her at the event was her grandmother, Kathryn Hain. Sofia’s family were also busy creating a sidewalk masterpiece, including her father, who teaches art in Beijing.
“This is something new for me,” she said. “It is kind of exciting.”
On her concrete canvas was a mythical creation of her imagination.
“I was thinking about how different myths are made up of different people’s stories, and I am using speech bubbles from comics to show that idea of a lot of different stories coming into one thing. I use the myth of the mermaid in this case.”
Bettie Chamber, 12, of Bennett quickly created her colorful masterpiece of a sun sinking into the sea and the colorful atmosphere it creates.
“I draw a lot at home,” Chamber said. “I drew this before at my cousin’s house, so I’m trying to replicate it. It is something I just came up with.”
Lone Tree Days concludes Sunday afternoon with old fashioned school days activities at North Park in Central City from 2 to 5 p.m.