Mural Festival One For History Books

7/5/17 – The Decorate the Dam Walldogs Mural Festival is now one for history books and the best way to understand Beaver Dam’s place in that history is to look at the origins of the event. Walldogs founder Nancy Bennett recounted the roots of the Walldogs phenomenon for us last week on WBEV’s Community Comment just as the festival was about to begin. Bennett says the mural festival started – somewhat accidentally – in Allerton, Iowa which is near where she had lived in 1993. A mural she had painted eight there years prior had started to fade when she was asked to refurbish it, and maybe paint a few more. She was live on the radio when she was put on the spot and asked and after “hemming and hawing” she finally agreed and thought about holding a festival. “We couldn’t do just one,” she said. Bennett reached out to a group of sign painters and artisans that call themselves the “Letterheads” that met regularly to share trade secrets. She says she needed to call it something different than “Letterheads” so she took the name from original sign painters who called themselves Walldogs because they worked like dogs, hanging from buildings in the rain and the heat to complete a project in a short amount of time.  And the name stuck and before that first meet was over both the artists and the community were both saying ‘this is a wonderful event, there will be more of these.’ We asked Bennett where Beaver Dam fits in the history of the Walldogs story. She says the artists agree that Beaver Dam is one of the best towns they have worked in. “Congratulations Beaver Dam,” Bennett says, “you did it.” In September, the Walldogs will be converging on a community in Rhode Island and next year an event is planned in Streator, Illinois.