Sponsored post – Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby

For the past eight years, the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) hosts an annual design competition and parade of human powered vehicle floats known as the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.  The unique event celebrates design and creativity and follows in the tradition of kinetic sculpture competitions taking place all over the world since 1969 when California artist Hobart Brown made some artistic improvements to his son’s tricycle. A kinetic sculpture is a human-powered vehicle (often made from welded together bike parts) that has an artistic theme. Sculpture teams often create costumes and characters that go along with their chosen theme. Past sculptures have included mummers on hand-crank driven pirate ships, zombie Amish farmers, and a couch and bar stools on a bike. “It’s really anything you can dream up,” says John Spetrino, founding member of Frank’s Kitchen and this year’s Derby Team Organizer.

This year’s Derby will feature artist Dennis McNett’s recently completed Viking ship, created during a month-long residency with art education students from the Mural Arts Program. To create the ship McNett used a variety of techniques including woodcut printing, screen-printing, papier-mache, wheat paste, costuming and carpentry. Photo by Steve Weinik.

This year’s event will bring over 10,000 individuals to the Fishtown and Kensington neighborhood on May 17th to join in the festivities. The Derby kicks off at noon from Trenton & Norris and continues along a four-mile loop through the neighborhood. This year’s organizers are excited to announce there are several “obstacles” this year that the sculptures must pass through, which are being organized by the businesses en route as a way to engage spectators, including Jonny Brenda’s, Frankford Hall, ReAnimator Coffee, Cedar Point, and Loco Pez? Sculpture teams will have to navigate a “sculpture wash” and a “donut fishing zone,” among others, before crossing through the mud pit at the finish line. “The Derby is really about fun and creativity, and it’s been a tremendous way to showcase this neighborhood’s unique businesses and residents,” says NKCDC Executive Director Sandy Salzman. “We could not do it without our presenting sponsors this year, the Philadelphia Brewing Company, Philly in Focus, and O3 World, which have donated tremendous resources towards making the Derby a success.”

Scenes from the 2012 Sculpture Derby. Photo credit: Phrequency.

This year, NKCDC has partnered with the Kensington-based Philadelphia Brewing Company to raise money for the event through a crowd sourcing campaign on the popular fundraising site, To view the campaign, visit: /kinetickensington. The goal of the campaign is to raise $10,000 to support the growing costs of the event. The Philadelphia Brewing Company will match donations to the campaign up to $5,000, and the campaign includes “perks” at certain giving levels like a chance to work the bottling line with a friend at PBC’s historic brewery, limited-edition photographs of the neighborhood by local photographer Meredith Kleiber, and gift certificates to local businesses.

Scenes from the 2012 Sculpture Derby. Photo credit: Phrequency.

The Sculpture Derby is coordinated with the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival which brings over 200 local arts and food vendors to the cobblestone blocks of Trenton Avenue, which have been a part of Kensington’s rich creative history for over a hundred years. The Arts Festival is organized by the East Kensington Neighbors Association.

 The 2014 Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby will take place on Saturday, May 17th.