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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Haslett Park sidewalk becomes colorful concrete canvas

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 - Updated: 9:55 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

For The Recorder

FORT PLAIN -- Prior to 10 a.m. Saturday, the sidewalk surrounding Haslett Park was nice, yet unremarkable. By Noon, each of Haslett Park's 140 sidewalk squares had been transformed by the community's youth, who came out in droves to turn bland, grey slabs into a colorful concrete canvases.

The Fort Plain Free Library's Chalk of Fame, held with assistance from the Fort Plain Community Activities Council, began two years ago as a laid back, informal gathering planned by a group of friends. While there were plans to hold another in 2013, the flood struck a month before the event was supposed to take place, forcing new priorities and putting Chalk of Fame on the back burner.

During Saturday's event, the first official, the library and FPCAC purchased 300 containers of chalk, which were piled high in a gigantic mound near the Haslett Park fountain, where attendees signed up for sidewalk space, the first 140 around the park filling up fast. By Noon, people were drawing on the sidewalk in front of the Fort Plain Library, wrapping around the corner and down Willett St.

Around 11 a.m., a group of local musicians played a free set in the park, inviting the young sidewalk artists to join a massive musical circle.

"It was incredibly successful, and above all, it was fun," said Fort Plain Library Director Whitney Hubbard of the free event, which featured an afternoon's worth of activities, also including a performance by the County Line Rebels, an eye-catching fruit display and samples by the Table at Fort Plain, and a booth manned by Albany-based artist and children's author Elizabeth Zunon.

Zunon displayed a variety of books she illustrated, explaining that her technique involves painting faces, the sky and ground, and cutting peoples' clothing, trees and homes out of paper, then gluing them on the paintings. She said that, on average, one of her books (which are stocked at the Fort Plain Library) takes about nine months to create.

Accompanied by her parents, who own a home in Fort Plain, Zunon explained that her grandfather was also from Fort Plain, and her family frequently used to visit him and his sisters -- including her great aunt Char Wetterau, who was once the Fort Plain Free Library Director.

Early in the afternoon, Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk visited the Table at Fort Plain's display, where Chef Aaron Katovitch served fruit skewers, along with an assortment of unusual items such as Jack Fruit and Dragonfruit, a seedy, meaty fruit found in locations such as South Asia, India and Thailand.

"I had to come to Fort Plain to try Dragonfruit for the first time," Tkaczyk joked.

Hubbard stated that while the library hosted the event, it was thanks to the assistance of numerous volunteers, who helped setup and clean up, bag chalk and spread the word, that the first official Chalk of Fame was such a huge success.

The Fort Plain Free Library has been hosting summer program events every day, and a big one -- The "huge human splatter paint day", according to Hubbard -- will take place on Friday, Aug. 15 at 4 p.m.

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