The Spirit: Manual Motorized Mayhem: Preparation is Underway for the 2017 Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival

Mar 6, 2017

Are you crazy and creative? Are you driven? Are you willing to allow your eccentric behavior to be the force of operation?

If so, registration is now open for the 2017 Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Arts Festival on May 20. The New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) and the East Kensington Neighbors Association (EKNA) will join forces with their sponsor, the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union (PFCU), to gather art vendors and encourage the creation of wacky human-powered vehicles to race through the Riverwards.

Now in its 11th year, the derby is both a parade and competition of DIY sculptures on wheels. Awards are distributed for the derby’s Best Costuming, Best Overall Theme, Best/Worst Pun, etc. The board of judges has included Captain George Kappe of the 26th Police District and other notable neighborhood personalities. Last year, Spirit News captured some silly sculptures and moments from the derby, which you can see in the photos accompanying this article.

The arts festival, in its 12th year, has featured over 200 vendors along the cobblestoned Trenton Avenue from Norris to Dauphin Street. The mix of artists, musicians and eateries has attracted more than 15,000 people each year. Vendors last year included Little Baby’s Ice Cream, The Cow and the Curd, and Frankadelphia.

This year, the PFCU is looking to sponsor a sculpture designed by a teacher-led group of students. Students in grades nine through 12 from a Philadelphia school who are overseen by a teacher, after-school moderator adult at least 21 years of age are eligible. The selected team will be awarded $4,000 for costs to build a derby sculpture to operate.

Ever since joining the Fishtown/East Kensington community with the opening of their Dauphin Street branch in 2013, Communication Specialist Karen Eavis says PFCU has made a point to embrace the creativity and innovation of the kids and people who live here through the contest.

 “The idea stems from our people-first mission,” Eavis said.

The PFCU is looking for students that show creativity and passion in their sketches, drawings or other means of conceptualizing their sculpture, according to Eavis. The PFCU is also partnering with local videographer Nic Justice to document from start to finish the student’s’ sculpture-making process and turn it into a video.

The PFCU adult-moderated student team contest kicks off on Friday, March 3 with happy hour hosted by the NKCDC at Bottle Bar East (1308 Frankford Ave.) from 5 – 7PM. The deadline to enter the contest is March 24. The teams will be judged by a panel consisting of members from the PFCU and the NKCDC, and the winning team with the best sculpture idea will be notified on March 31. More details can be found about the PFCU’s call for entries on its website.

 – Written by Shealyn Kilroy for The Spirit
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