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Street Painting Festival to honor Oak Ridge 85 kicks off Saturday

The festival in Oak Ridge's historic Jackson Square helps raise scholarship funds for Roane State Community College students.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The streets in Oak Ridge will soon be decorated to honor pioneers in education and civil rights.

The Noon Rotary Club of Oak Ridge is sponsoring the annual Street Painting Festival with the theme "Honoring Scarboro 85" on Saturday, Oct. 16 in the historic Jackson Square.

The Scarboro 85, also known as the Oak Ridge 85, were the first Black students to integrate public schools in Tennessee when they entered Oak Ridge High School and Robertsville Junior High on Sept. 6, 1955.

RELATED: The Secret in Scarboro: The Oak Ridge 85

Proceeds from the festival provide scholarship funds for full-time or part-time Roane State Community College students from Anderson County, according to a release from the Rotary Club.

Nearly $300,000 in scholarships issued by the nonprofit Roane State Foundation have been provided to students since the start of the festival in 1999, according to the Rotary Club. At least 75 students have been helped by these scholarships in the last 10 years.

The release said free chalk and supplies will be provided, and artists can begin their creations at 8 a.m. Craft and food vendors will be on hand, as well as musical groups.

Credit: Elizabeth Sims
Street painting artist Sonia Summers works on pieces in the WBIR parking lot.

The Rotary Club said cash prizes will be awarded to participants. “Best of Show” wins $300 while the “People’s Choice Award” will receive $200. Other prizes for each category are $75 for first place, $25 for second and $15 for third.

Artists who create chalk art clearly inspired by the “Honoring Scarboro 85” theme will have a chance to win a $25 bonus prize, according to the release.

The Rotary Club said sponsors buy a sidewalk square for the artists to use in exhibiting their creativity. Sponsorship levels range from $5,000 for Platinum down to $100 for individuals, but any amount is welcomed. 

The release said sponsorships can be made online. Checks can be mailed to Roane State Foundation at 276 Patton Lane, Harriman, TN 37748. Please note on the checks that the contributions are for the Oak Ridge Street Painting Festival.