Between 90 and 100 artists will hit the streets around Marietta Square this weekend to bring their chalk creations to life.

Chalktoberfest, hosted by the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, returns to the Square from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, according to Sally Macaulay, executive director of the museum.

The sixth annual festival will feature national and international professional chalk artists, a public chalk competition, a craft beer festival, live music, food trucks, antique cars, vendor tents and activities for the whole family, Macaulay said.

This year's artists hail from from Italy, Serbia, Ukraine, Argentina, Mexico and 18 U.S. states, she said, adding that their creations must be seen to be believed. 

"When you think chalk art, you think sidewalk chalk, but this is actual masterpieces on the street," Macaulay said. "It's just an amazing event. (The museum's) mission is building community through art, and we thought what better way to do it than just put it on the street and let everybody see it?"

Macaulay said last year's festival brought about 100,000 attendees across its two days and its popularity continues to grow. She said the museum had to turn about 50 artists away to make sure there was adequate room to work this year.

"Six years ago, when we started, we had 40 artists, and last year we had 104," she said. "We've cut back this year, because we were having to go down side streets because so many artists wanted to come."

Artists will begin working on their street canvases at about 8 a.m. Saturday, and attendees have a unique opportunity to talk to them about their work during the event, she said.

Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton said the annual event is a community image builder that boosts the local economy.

Bruton said many of the artists stay in Marietta hotels, and visitors spend money in local shops and restaurants before and after enjoying artwork.

"It is a very positive and interesting event which draws crowds from all over the region to showcase our Square and see what our great city has to offer," he said.

Once again, attendees of the free event will also have the opportunity to purchase tickets to a craft beer festival scheduled for Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online for $40 until Friday, when the price goes up to $45, Macaulay said. Tickets may be available on site but often sell out by the start of the festival, she said.

To buy tickets, visit www.chalktoberfest.com and click the "CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL" link.

Beer festival ticket holders will be given a wristband and will be able to sample or purchase 125 craft beers and 25 wines from 40 breweries as they peruse the street art.

Other activities include children's inflatables, face painting, a children's scavenger hunt on Sunday and a community, non-professional chalk competition with youth, teen, school and adult divisions. 

The Marietta Police Department reports that roads surrounding the Square will be closed for the weekend of events, as well as roads extending a block out from the Square in all directions. Motorists should plan alternate routes. 

For more information on the weekend festival, visit www.chalktoberfest.com.

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

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