When it comes to chalking, the real art is gone by the time the chalk makes its final flick. Chalk art is really about seeing the lines and color in action—and that’s what brings the 5000 people to Backesto Park every September for the Luna Park Chalk Art Festival.

Held this year on Sept. 20, the 7th annual Luna Park Chalk Art Festival will include around 200 artists, all sprawled across the cement. Thirteen featured artists will be returning with backgrounds ranging from professional architects to high school artists and professional illustrators—all hailing from the Bay Area.

“At the end of the day, the artwork is gone,” said architect and featured artist Wayne Renshaw. “It’s as if you’ve gone to a concert. Working there and being the display is the art.”

The festival is indeed a formula for art in action. The setup fosters an artist-to-audience and artist-to-artist interaction that normal art studios lack. People spectate at the mystery of what a few early strokes of color will become and what kind of face the initial sketches of an ear will blossom into.

“As an artist it’s really cool,” said event organizer Katrina Loera. “We’re all working together and sitting down and people are sharing cookies, techniques and colors.”

The morning of the event, the artists convene on the giant blank canvas, some with outlines in mind, others nervously ready to see what ideas will stem out once they hit the pavement. Many of them haven’t used chalk as a medium before and are eager for the challenge.

“Everyone’s really hyper and excited,” said featured artist Miguel Machuca. “Once it starts, it’s almost like an avalanche snowball effect. You start and don’t stop.”

People often approach the artists throughout the event. With 3D dinosaurs popping out on one corner and a city skyline sprawling in another stretch, the audience often asks about technique and inspiration for the art pieces.

The scope of the different artists, all kneeling over the same sidewalk, is just as diverse as the final pieces that make up the park’s ground that day. Street art is, to Renshaw, a “multicultural thing” and San Jose “definitely serves as a melting pot.”

The festival will have live music and food vendors throughout the day. Walk-in signups for a box of chalk and a space on the sidewalk will also be accepted on the day of the event.

Proceeds go toward a grant for local art schools and have reached up to $5500 in past festivals.

“Luna Park is our hometown festival,” said Renshaw, who has toured all over the nation in chalk festivals with his wife, Cheryl Renshaw. “I grew up in San Jose, Luna Park is home to us and it’s always fun chalking [with] people you know.”

Photos courtesy of Luna Park Chalk Art Festival: