As customers strolled up and down Main Street looking for deals during the Summer Sidewalk Sale on Saturday, they had to carefully avoid colorful artwork at their feet.
Fifteen sections of sidewalk along the east side of Main Street offering up three-foot squares of artistic expression, were entries in the first-ever Sidewalk Chalk Competition.
Children, students and professional artists of all ages competed for a total of $250 in cash prizes.
The overall winning piece gave the impression that part of the sidewalk had been dug out, filled with water and occupied by a bright-orange koi fish.
Justin Fogleman, a Los Angeles native who grew up in Garden City and now works for the city, put about 2 hours and 15 minutes into the artwork. As the grand champion, he now can have some of his work featured in the gallery at Garden City Arts.
“I’ve been doing visual art since I was a kid,” Fogleman said. “Both of my grandmas were artistic, so they helped me pick it up. My favorite medium is spray paint.”
Machelle Klaus, of Holcomb, won $100 for first place in the professional category. Abbigayle Ramirez won $75 in the student category, and Tiana Selee won $25 in the young artist category.
Fogleman also won the $50 People’s Choice Award.
The art contest, a watermelon feed in Kep’s Park and the first-ever Downtown Chow Down on Heroes Way were all meant to attract visitors to downtown Garden City and promote the sidewalk sale, according to Katy Guthrie, executive director of Garden City Arts.
Guthrie, who represents the arts center on the promotions committee for Garden City Downtown Vision, said the events were meant to get people invested in downtown and promote the work of local artists.
“I think artists have a tendency to be very private, humble people who don’t really broadcast their talent,” Guthrie said. “So events like this really help to showcase that. I love seeing art bring people together.”
Many visitors followed the smells north past all the artwork and turned right on Heroes Way, where they stumbled upon the Downtown Chow Down, with food trucks lined up on a barricaded East Pine Street in front of Stevens Park.
Whitney Kinney, manager of WAM’s Tropical Sno, said business was good on Saturday, if slow at times.
“I think we’ll come back each year, maybe if they get something going down in the park to get more attention, then definitely,” she said.
The longest lines at the Chow Down came together in front of Good Eats and Sweet Treats, which offered a variety of barbecue, sides, baked good and drinks.
RJ Padilla, 3, said the ribs were “better than what Daddy makes.”
Robert, who barbecues a lot for RJ at home, said, “The sauce is not too vinegary, like some sauces are. This just has the perfect taste to it. And the meat comes right off the bone.”
RJ’s mom, Terry Padilla, said the ribs and brisket were delicious, but she wished there had been more selection.
Authentic Mexican tacos were served out of a makeshift tent kitchen called Tacos Al Pastor, so many that they were running out of supplies, said Anahi Cisneros.
The taco meat was tender and the salsa fresh, said customer Cody Prosser, from McCracken.
“It’s really good. It tastes like genuine Mexican food, not like the fake stuff,” he said.
Cisneros served up tacos and soft drinks alongside her husband, Andres. Their friends, Javier Savario and Francisco Holguin, hope to run a full restaurant someday.
“They’ve been cooking together all their lives,” she said.
The funnel cake with strawberry sauce offered by Ken and Palla Lang out of their custom-built carnival food trailer got rave reviews from Henry and Carl Bors and their mother, Lara.
Nine-year-old Henry Bors rated it “1,000 out of 10.”