Happy Wanderers Director Linda Ruehrmund said more than 450 people attended the Chalk Talk performances with Elva Hurst that were held Aug. 13-15 at locations in Morrow and Marion counties.
Hurst’s shows began at St. John Lutheran Church (Windfall) in Cardington with Hurst completing a chalk drawing of an Amish barn raising. Amish and Mennonite themes are often a part of her show as she tells the story of growing up in a large old-order Mennonite family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
As Hurst talks about her life and tells stories, pictures emerge on the canvas in fluorescent chalk with music and sound effects. At the grand finale, colored lights and an ultraviolet black light create beautiful effects enjoyed by the audience.
Happy Wanderers have had several stops at Hurst’s Barnyard Art Studio when they visited Sight and Sounds in Pennsylvania in past years. Ruehrmund has kept in touch with Hurst with the hope of having her make a visit to Morrow County.
Happy Wanderer Becky Kilgour said the experience of the Happy Wanderers visit to Hurst’s Studio in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was truly inspiring. Kilgour has read Hurst’s autobiography about her youth and how she taught herself art between chores on the family dairy farm.
Hurst talked about how she discovered the lost art of Chalk Talk as an adult, although she had enjoyed drawing and painting for a long time in her youth. She said Chalk Talk was a popular form of entertainment in the 1800s before the time of movies, radio and television.
Hurst’s Chalk Talks were sponsored by the Happy Wanderers, and Chalk Talks were given at several locations in addition to St. John Lutheran Church. Other locations were at the American Legion Hall in Cardington, Cornerstone Alliance Church in Marion, Palace Theater May Pavilion in Marion, Chadwick Residence in Marion and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jenera.
Ruehrmund said there were people 5 to 95 years old in the audience, and they were all delighted with the show. Hurst donated each drawing she completed to the place of the performance.
“Her faith and patriotism were evident as she drew,” Ruehrmund said. “As she drew the picture, she kept you guessing and anticipating what details would be next.”
Happy Wanderers excursions will continue through Dec. 12, with most trips being day trips in Ohio. The exception will be the trip to Sight and Sounds Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Nov. 16-18 with a stop at Hurst’s Barnyard Art Studio. For more information, contact Ruehrmund at 419-864-7520 or via email at [email protected].
Alberta Stojkovic is a correspondent for The Morrow County Sentinel.