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Kinetic Derby Day showcases best in human power

The soapbox derby course gives the young and the young-at-heart the chance to build something fun and test it against gravity while racing down Meeting Street toward the river.
The soapbox derby course gives the young and the young-at-heart the chance to build something fun and test it against gravity while racing down Meeting Street toward the river. Submitted

The first thing you should know about the Kinetic Derby: What it is.

West Columbia’s 2nd annual Kinetic Derby Day on April 27 and it’s actually several events, including a kinetic parade and a derby.

OK, so what is a kinetic parade?

The parade is a literary character/book themed kinetic sculpture parade.

So what is a kinetic sculpture?

Kinetic sculptures are human-powered 3D representations bringing imagination to life using pedal power, as an individual or as a team. A team may include multiple members on a bike with themed costumes or multiple participants in costume riding or walking along with a sculpture that includes kinetic movement.

In other words, no stored energy, motors or electricity is allowed; only pushing, pulling, pedaling or walking is permitted to move the human-powered floats.

Participants must devise unique, human-generated ways to keep “vehicles” moving at a pace of at least 3 miles an hour.

So now, what is a kinetic derby?

Same principal: No stored energy, motors or electricity is allowed. The soapbox derby course gives the young and the young-at-heart the chance to build something fun and test it against gravity while racing down Meeting Street toward the river. Participants can compete in one of two soapbox categories: Art Cars or Need for Speed. Soapbox cars can have no more than two occupants and must include operable brakes and steering.

Awards are given for the best art car, the fastest car, and best wipeout.

The whole idea is to spur creative thinking, competition, and family fun. The mission of Kinetic Derby Day is to inspire creative problem solving, build community pride, and showcase our growing community ready for economic investment.

The event is intended to inspire creative thinkers and help them develop problem-solving skills to construct the ideas they imagine.

Aside from the parade and derby, there will be art installations, artist tents, interactive science fun and food trucks on State Street.

Now that you know what Kinetic Derby Day is, Anna M. Huffman, communications and technology director for West Columbia, answers some other questions about the unique festival:

Q. What is the usual reaction when a first-timer hears about the Kinetic Derby?

A. First they say, “What is a Kinetic Derby?” Then when explained, they say, that sounds fun! We should build something!

Q. What have been some of the most fun/unusual/impressive kinetic entries?

A. We had an accounting firm make a derby car out of a filing cabinet with papers flying off of it and a kinetic sculpture of flying Pterodactyls.

Q. How did West Columbia come up with having a Kinetic Derby Day?

A. A local store owner came to the city with the idea to hold a Kinetic Sculpture Parade. We loved the idea and added the derby racing piece and an artisan fairway to attract a broader audience.

Q. This is obviously a fun and educational experience. So what makes it fun? What makes it educational?

A. Families and friends coming together to create art and participate in competition. Since the requirements for all entries are that the sculpture or car must be human powered, it allows children and adults to research kinetic energy and learn more about it to make the best entry for the event.

Q. What are three reasons folks shouldn’t miss Kinetic Derby Day?

A. 1. Excitement of the parade and races 2. Opportunity to see the work of artists from around the midlands showcase their talents in art, sculpture, dance, and music 3. Kids zone has a free bounce house, face painting, original Ohio Soap Box cars to race in, and more.

If you go

Kinetic Derby Day

When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 27

Where: Meeting Street/State Street, West Columbia

Cost: Free

For more information: Register at www.kineticderbyday.com

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