This trout picture colorfully "burst" from the sidewalk, even spilling onto the next square. It was awarded third place. BRETTA GRABAU/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
This trout picture colorfully "burst" from the sidewalk, even spilling onto the next square. It was awarded third place. BRETTA GRABAU/REPUBLICAN-LEADER

Family Fun Night has been a part of Preston for several years, and each year it continues to grow. New vendors are introduced and new people come for a look-see.

The last Family Fun Night this year introduced a new attraction for families, friends and teams from the area and beyond.

For the past few months, members of the Preston Arts Council have decorated the sidewalks of the business district with chalk art of various kinds, scenes, graphics or advertisements. These were mostly a preview of what was to come.

"We have been wanting to do this for years," said Melody Stockton, a member of the Preston Arts Council.

On Thursday, Aug. 14, the council opened the sidewalks for groups of people to decorate with their creative ideas, not just the council members themselves. The result was outstanding.

"We had 10 groups enter to draw. Anyone could participate, from little children through adults," Stockton noted.

A few groups pre-registered for the chalk draw, but registration for the drawing remained open until 6:15 p.m. that evening.

"We hoped to get some walk-ins and were thrilled when they came. We wanted to make sure that parents that worked in Rochester had time to come and register with their kids," she explained.

The road construction posed a slight challenge to this month's Family Fun Night.

"The construction may have limited the number of people that came, but we did not have any problems. Some people brought things from the other side of the construction area for Family Fun Night. The construction workers nicely moved barrels to let them through," Stockton commented.

In the past, most of the activity took place at the west end of Main Street below the courthouse. Booths have been set up and the library has established the Reading Tree for young children to listen to a story. But since the construction occupies that area currently, the activities transitioned to the eastern end of the street. And this month, the children were treated to a police officer reading them their story.

At first, not many people trickled into Family Fun Night due to a banquet at Poet Biorefining, other events going on around the area and the road construction. However, as the night went on, the flow eventually increased as did the entrants for the chalk drawing, including a couple of bikers fresh off the trail.

"A few bikers saw the posters around town. They came down and the lady asked, 'Can anyone register for this?' She had a great time and the group almost took third place," Stockton described.

Because the majority of the entrants were walk-ins, there were no specified squares in the sidewalk that were to be drawn on. Rather, the people picked their own square.

Each group displayed their creativity and individuality with the pictures they drew. Featured were butterflies, Sponge Bob Squarepants, a dragon, a trout and more. And oftentimes teams debated on how they wanted to draw certain aspects of their pictures and worked enthusiastically.

Brothers and sisters participated in the drawing together, small children entered and even the Fillmore Central volleyball team added their own décor to the sidewalk, displaying their "Falcon Pride."

As noted before, prizes were awarded for those who placed in the competition. However, how they were decided was the verdict of the crowds.

"We passed out ballots for the people to cast their votes. The crowd was excited about voting. Even if they were doing other things they wanted to do it. And once I looked after a man's stand while he went to vote," Stockton noted.

As each person played a part in the ranking of each of the pictures, one of the fun parts of the evening was seeing some politicing taking place.

"While we were tallying the votes, the second place team was looking to how they were doing and would go through the crowds finding people to cast their votes," Stockton laughed. "I probably would have done it in secret, but that would have taken some of the enthusiasm out of it."

The Fillmore Central volleyball team won the people's choice award and first place as the voting concluded. The prize was $20. However, since the whole team could not split $20, they decided to do something different.

"The volleyball team decided to turn their prize money over to the Preston Food Shelf," said Stockton. "They deserve an honorable mention."

Stockton thought the event was very well received by those who came to the Family Fun Night. She added that they are definitely planning on having an expanded one next year. This was simply an introductory event. However, she did notice one difficulty that could be resolved by pre-registering.

"With the construction on and so many walk-ins, we could not plan on using certain squares for people to use. It would be nice to have more people pre-register next year," she stated.

There will be another chalk drawing event next year, but when it happens has not been decided. Keep a weather eye open for it and start brainstorming ideas of what to draw.