Port Townsend hosts kinetic skulpture race

Event begins Saturday and will continue at low noon Sunday

PORT TOWNSEND — The Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Skulpture Race is Saturday and Sunday.

Port Townsend celebrates its 39th year as one of the oldest kinetic skulpture races on the circuit.

“It stays true to the original race with its emphasis on complete silliness, kostumes, pageantry and, yes, great engineering,” organizers said in a press release.

Highlights will be the two-day race that begins with the water portion on Saturday, and an altered street, sand and mud kourse on Sunday and the Koronation Kostume Ball at 8 p.m. Saturday. Preceding the festival will be an Early K-Bird hospitality party at the Old Whiskey Mill at 1038 Water St., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Spellings with “ks” instead of “cs” are intentional.)

“Each skulpture is a work of art and an engineering wonder,” organizers said. “The pilots, pit krew and entourage that accompany the skulpture dress in kostume and perform pageantry throughout the kourse weekend.”

Kinetic skulptures are human-powered, artistically enhanced vehicles that must go through sand (kwicksand), mud (The Dismal Bog), float on water and transverse hilly neighborhoods.

Most are “a mixture of bicycle parts, Styrofoam, duct tape, imagination and prayers,” organizers said.

Awards are given to each racer, but the most highly prized award is the “Mediocrity Award,” the skulpture that finishes in the middle of the pack.

“Bribes help,” organizers said.

This year’s Kinetic race and parade theme is “Kinetic Komedy in the PNW!”


On Saturday will be the art parade, brake test and first day of the race. Art entry forms and more information can be found at: https://www.ptkineticrace.org/2023-annual-art-kontest-and-parade.

Parade entrants will line up at the US Bank parking lot at 1239 Water St. at 11 a.m. and traverse down Water Street to the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., at about noon.

After the parade, racers will participate in a brake and flotation test, with skulptures careening down Monroe Street for a brake stop at the skateboard park at 250 Monroe St., before lining up for the water portion of the race.

Racers will show off their floatation and propulsion through the water with a dive into the bay at the Salmon Club by the Northwest Maritime Center, 431 Water St.

The Rosehips Kween Koronation Ball, an over-21 event, will host people in kostume to dance to the music of MVP (Michael Jackson vs Prince cover band), a seven-piece funk band from Seattle, at 8 p.m. at the American Legion Hall. Admission will be $10 each at the door only.

Kween Kontestants will vie for the Rosehips Krown at about 9:30 p.m. and the koronation will be at about 11 p.m.


On Sunday, the second race day will feature the street, sand and mud portion of the Kourse.

Skulptures will line up on Water Street by the American Legion Hall at about 10 a.m. The race will start with a “Kheap shot” by some local dignitary precisely at “low noon” on Sunday.

The race starts up Lawrence, kornering by Aldrich’s Market. Skulptures then race to a sand course at Fort Worden State Park, pedal hard to and through the mud at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, then back down San Juan Avenue and up through the Uptown via Walker to Lawrence Street — a suggested place to get a close look at the skuptures — and then down Monroe to the finish line at the American Legion Hall.

For a detailed map of the route, go to: https://www.ptkineticrace.org/great-port-townsend-bay-kinetic-kourse.

Each skulpture and pilot must pay a registration fee of $20.23 with each additional team member charged $20.23.

T-shirt sponsors are: Key City Fish, Pourhouse, Astound, Port Townsend Brewing Company, Velocity Coffee House, The Keg and I, Uptown Pub, Old Whiskey Mill, Henery’s Hardware, Williwaw Bike Shop and DL Logo.

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