Get your wacky on: It's Kinetic Skulpture weekend in Port Townsend
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Janet Emery, left, and Selena Espinoza prepare decorations in the American Legion Hall in Port Townsend for this weekend's Kinetic Skulpture Race.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

Kinetic skedule
PORT TOWNSEND — The Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Skulpture Race, where “cheating is not a right but a privilege,” begins with a parade at “low noon” today and ends Sunday with the race itself.
Here is the “skedule”:

■ Low noon — Parade from the Port Townsend ferry terminal at 1301 Water St. to the Northwest Maritime Center at 431 Water St., where kinetic skulptures will undergo a float test.
■ 8 p.m. — Koronation Ball, American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St.; $15; for those 21 and older.

■ 10:30 a.m. — Racers begin lining up at the American Legion Hall.
■ Low noon — Kinetic Skulpture Race begins.
■ About 1 p.m. — First checkpoint, Port Townsend Salmon Club ramp near the maritime center.
■ About 1:30 p.m. — Kwick sand race on Fort Worden State Park beach, followed by travel to the Dismal Bog for a mud race at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 4907 Landes St.
■ About 3:30 p.m. — Homage to the Kosmic Rooster at Cedar Street off San Juan Avenue.
■ About 5 p.m. — Final checkpoint, former site of Kinetic Coffee at 520 Kearney St., with the last leg down Water Street to the American Legion Hall.
■ 5:30 p.m. — Awards ceremony, American Legion Hall, followed by a Survivors Party.
Peninsula Daily News
PORT TOWNSEND — Contestants in the Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Skulpture Race may seem weird and wacky, but it takes a tremendous amount of stamina and smarts to go the “kourse,” according to a longtime participant.

“There is definitely a method to their madness,” said Selena Espinoza. “They are some of the smartest guys I know, doing the funniest and goofiest things.”

Espinoza is the only person to be twice honored as the event's Rose Hips Kween during its 31-year history.

She is the current queen and will turn the crown over to whomever the judges and the public choose as her successor during the ball at 8 tonight at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St.

The letter K, for kinetic, is all over the event's signage and program, both of which use the letter in “kreative” ways.

There is the kween, the kourse that is fraught with “kwick sand,” and the “Looney Tunes”-like theme for this year's event has to do with “kartoons.”

Espinoza said several of the contestants and participants will incorporate a cartoon theme into their machines and costumes but on a completely optional basis.

No engines

A kinetic skulpture is a human-powered, “artistically enhanced” vehicle that must go through sand, described as kwick sand, and mud — the Dismal Bog — float on water and transverse hilly neighborhoods, according to the website at

“It's amazing how many people come here from everywhere from Canada to California to demonstrate these amazing homemade machines with no engines and no energy,” Espinoza said.

“They power the machines with their own creativity and sweat, while it gives the rest of us a chance to get away from our regular days, let loose and have fun.”

The participants know each other well from other events, Espinoza said.

“We see all these people once or twice a year, but they become like family,” she said.

“We've seen people grow up over the years,” she added.

“Some of them were once in the pits helping Mom and Dad with their machines. Now, they are racing on their own while Mom and Dad are in the stands cheering them on.”

Espinoza is a judge on the pageantry panel, while others serve on the engineering and art panels that award each contestant a final score. This is done on a scale of 1 to 10.

Mediocrity Award

Awards are given to each racer “whether they want it or not,” according to the website, but the most highly prized award is the Mediocrity Award for the contestant who finishes exactly in the middle.

“You never know who this is going to be,” Espinoza said.

“Last year, one of the contestants stopped to help get another person out of the mud. That slowed him down, so he finished in the middle and won the race.”

The first major event takes place at “low noon” today with a parade down Water Street from the ferry dock at 1301 Water St. to the Northwest Maritime Center at 431 Water St., where the contestants will participate in a “float test” for their machines.

While the Kinetic Crew will invade downtown at that point, there are no scheduled events until the Koronation Kostume Ball, also known as the Kinetic Kween Ball, at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall.

Koronation Ball

Admission will be $15 at the door. The ball is restricted to those 21 and older.

Live music will be played by a live band (“no dead ones,” the website says), Eldridge Gravy and the Court Supreme.

Kostumes, if worn, are suggested to be of cartoon characters.

The contest for the kween is scheduled to begin at about 9:30 p.m.

Each contestant must tell a joke, share a recipe and show a talent of some kind.

Three finalists are picked by the judges, and the winner is selected by the shouts of the crowd.

Espinoza said judge support can be bought, and bribes are actually encouraged.

“I don't know who's running this year, but 'Veronica Parkway' has the inside track right now,” Espinoza said. “She got someone to make her these ceramic coins for bribes, so she's in the lead.”

Espinoza said the event is a draw for the town.

“In addition to filling up our hotels and restaurants, it brings in a lot of people to see what Port Townsend has to offer,” she said.

“A lot of people who come up have no idea what Port Townsend is; they haven't even heard of it. But some of them come up to race and like it so much they move up here and start businesses.”

Race on Sunday

Sunday is the main event, with racers lining up at the Legion Hall at 10:30 a.m. in preparation for the “low noon” start time.

The first checkpoint is at the Port Townsend Salmon Club ramp near the maritime center at about 1 p.m.

Teams will work their way up to the beach at Fort Worden State Park for a kwick sand race at about 1:30 p.m.

The next stop will be the Dismal Bog at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 4907 Landes St., where there is a mud race, followed by the Homage to the Kosmic Rooster at Cedar Street off San Juan Avenue at about 3:30 p.m.

The final checkpoint will be at the former site of Kinetic Coffee at 520 Kearney St., with the last leg down Water Street to the American Legion Hall, ending at “5-ish.”

The awards ceremony is scheduled to begin outside the Legion Hall at 5:30 p.m., with a Survivors Party following inside the building.

For more information, visit


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

Last modified: October 03. 2013 9:07PM
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