Our season of festivals ends each year with a contest. You can’t win by being the best. The results have no value except to amuse. It’s a celebration of imagination, combining art and adaptive mechanics. It’s a Kinetic Sculpture race! No advanced degrees required.
The vehicles must be human-powered. They must be built to travel on land, in water, and through daunting mud pits. The top trophy, the Mediocrity Award, is earned by the entry judged to be the exact “middle of the pack”. Contestants base their vehicles on bikes, wagons and carts. The designs evoke fantastic animals, cartoons, and low-tech. They have many sizes of wheels, paddles and pontoons. Some belch fire, make animal noises, or play music.
The race is protected by Kinetic Kops who are encouraged to take bribes, and the entire consortium is presided over by our Rose-hip Kween. Entrants perform skits and songs, and a dance is held the night before the race.
The original event was accidently founded in 1969 by California sculptor Hobart Brown when, after “improving” his son’s tricycle, he was challenged to a race. Other artsy locals heard about it, made their own wacky vehicles, and demanded to paticipate. Port Townsend was the third town to adopt the tradition. We’ve been at it since 1983. Hobart piloted his personal vehicle off the Earth in 2007, but his intent to showcase “adults having fun so kids will want to get older” lives on. These races are now held in American cities, and internationally.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather, a silly time was had by all, and the festivities were filmed by a DJI Phantom quadcopter personal drone. It’s interesting to think that 21st Century technology was being used to record this contest of low-tech, human-powered transportation.
For you dedicated Invisible Mikey spotters, I ended up in some long-distance footage of the race. Between 3:36 and 4:15 (also in the freeze-frame below), you can see me, sort of. I’m at the left corner of the crowd at the water’s edge where the vehicles are entering. I’m dressed all in light khaki, in front of a person wearing bright red. I’m taking some of the photos that appear above.
17 responses to “For the Glory!”
This looks like so much fun. It’s amazing how creative some people can be.
I’d love to get someone to come up with a unique idea to transform my wheelchair for a festival celebration like this. It could be great fun.
There were a couple of costumed characters in electric wheelchairs following the entries down the street portion of the race. I wasn’t in a good position to photograph that part. Theoretically, I can’t see why yours couldn’t be adapted for floatation. Might need some tractor tires for the mud. I read they ARE organizing for a race in SA, but I don’t have any details.
What really got me thinking about you was that drone though. It’s controlled by joystick, so it could be modified for chin or mouth stick. One of the ways people are using them is in tandem with virtual-reality goggles. Because so much of our perception is normally based on vision, altering our point-of-view can create a convincing experience of physically inhabiting alternate space, of flying.
I know you are a bit sensitive about having things on your head, but researching that drone, plus knowing some of the virtual-reality exams they do with Patrick (Mom’s part-brain / part-cybernetic pal) got me excited about the possibilities. Here’s a tutorial of someone using that system:
I didn’t see you, but totally dig the frog and Mario brothers!
I’m there. My invisibility probably obstructed your view. I have a khaki hoodie and jeans, and you can see me repeatedly aiming back and forth as I take pictures. Maybe the motion of the behavior will help.
The frog was my favorite, and the Mario Bros. bike had that bucket up top that “burped” fireballs. Nice to have you here, Lisa.
What a wonderful, wonderful town! And what a great idea to see adults acting crazy so that kids will want to grow up and have similar fun. Sadly, I remember much of my young life not wanted to be an adult. Unlike many other girls in high school I did not want to wear lipstick, nylons, nail polish, or high heels. Ask Mary. When I watch Mad Men, I understand why I did not want to be a grown woman. I can see that the children in Port Townsend can look forward to a non-threatening adulthood.
Kids here follow a pattern I remember from the small towns of Iowa where I grew up. Unless they are already interested in one of the four main professions (health care, retail, mill work, marine trades), they leave after high school. After a decade or so sampling the wider world, Seattle at least, many learn what a truly idyllic place this is and return. We have very few 20-somethings. The local dating scene for the under-40s is dismal. But it’s all good at our age! Glad you could drop by, Suze.
What a great community event. Loved the photos and the community engagement. You live around VERY imaginative, creative, inventive people.
Maintaining a higher than average silliness quotient is a key part of my stress management plan. The art + fun atmosphere was definitely one of the reasons I wanted to move here. I’m happy to have you here to appreciate it, Galen.
I like your Gravatar and respect your reasons for anonymity. Your Blog is insightful, informative and interesting to read. Cool.
Tex has just proved that Southern hospitality is no myth. He writes about seniors and political issues, and there’s a nice set of photos of him from childhood to now on his “About” page. Texans are historically very independent: http://texarty.wordpress.com/
Hi Mr. Mike – thanks for stopping by mine, which gave me a chance to find yours. I’ve enjoyed the variety – you are generous in allowing us a glimpse into your lives. I’ll be back for more. Best ~ HuntMode
Aw, thanks. You’re welcome any time. (A dog lover.)
Yes, indeed a dog and cat lover. The greyhound in the picture is Claire, who developed bone cancer and had to be put to sleep in May. Couldn’t stand the silence and rescued another now named Ella and she is a delight – the Ambassador of Greythounds. 😉
LOVE greyhounds. So sensitive, yet sweet-tempered.
See? We’re gonna get along jes fine!
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Thanks for the trailer, LB!