This weekend, Trenton Avenue in East Kensington will host the annual Trenton Avenue Arts Festival and the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby, a tandem pair of events that have grown through the years.
This weekend’s events will be bigger than ever before.
The pair of events have become something of a marriage of two unique celebrations since the launch of the Kinetic Derby five years ago.
And it’s been a happy affair, said organizers, thanks to the collaboration between the East Kensington Neighbors Association — who hosts the arts festival — and the New Kensington Community Development Corp. and its annual kinetic sculpture derby.
According to Krista Peel, who with her husband, Zak Starer, has been organizing the arts festival for months, the two annual events have become come somewhat synonymous.
The Trenton Avenue Arts Festival is in its sixth year.
It will be held from noon to 5 p.m., on Saturday, May 21, on Trenton Avenue, between Norris and Dauphin streets.
“This year, we really tried to make it all one event,” she said during an interview on Friday, last week. “It’s like we have this huge art fair with this crazy bike race all around it.”
Since its inception, the arts festival has grown every year and this year, Peel said, it is larger and includes more vendors — of both food and crafts — than ever before.
Last year, the street festival — which offers a wide variety of local craftsmen and artists a place to present their wares — grew from about 140 venders to 190. When it’s time to grab a bite to eat, there will be a much larger variety of options this year, as food vendors grew from last year’s measly three to a total of 10.
There will also be a stage with a rotating selection of six bands.
“I’m excited,” said Peel. “We’ve been working on this since late February, early March and we are ready to do it already.”
On top of the many vendors, including new companies like the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym and Little Baby’s Ice Cream that will be launching during this weekend’s event, Peel said the organizers tried to bring in a lot of non-profit organizations as well to allow visitors to learn about their contributions to the community.
“We really wanted to make room for non-profit organizations this year,” said Peel. “I’m excited about it.”
But, if the art fair is a popular event, a real crowd pleaser has to be the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.
This event will see at least 20 teams take on a 4.1 mile course through the neighborhood on repurposed bicycles, beautifully hacked and remodeled to create new sculptures for the wildly popular annual event.
In fact, this year the NKCDC obtained a $20,000 grant — to be spread over two years — from the Knight Arts Foundation in order to support the derby.
Angie Williamson, the recently appointed economic development director for the NKCDC, said the grant will allow the organization to grow and respond to concerns — such as placing much requested bleachers at key locations, like the finish line — for the event.
At 12:30 p.m. racers will begin at Norris Street and Trenton Avenue, then, in 10-minute intervals, they are expected to arrive at Frankford and Montgomery avenues, passing Hetzell’s Field at 12:50 p.m. and hitting the mud pit at Penn Treaty Park at around 1 p.m.
After that, the contestants will head to Thompson and Marlborough streets, then to the Berks El Stop and on to Frankford and Lehigh avenues. From there, at around 1:40 p.m., they will head to Trenton Avenue at Sergeant Street and on Frankford Avenue at Susquehanna Avenue to return to the starting line by about 2 p.m.
But, there could be delays, said Williamson.
“It wouldn’t be a derby without a few breakdowns,” she said with a laugh.
Williamson, who came to the NKCDC from Roanoke, Va., said she was excited to organize the sculpture derby right when she first came to the city.
“I thought that if this is one of the things I’ll get to work on, this would be the coolest job ever,” she said. “It’s a really unique event … It’s a one day event that has an impact that lasts much longer.”
Going to the fest
The East Kensington Neighbors Association’s Trenton Avenue Arts Festival joins the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby again this weekend.
This one-of-a-kind family friendly event featuring many local artists, nonprofits, businesses, food vendors, and musicians will be held on Trenton Avenue, between Norris and Dauphin streets from noon to 5 p.m. The Derby will kick off at 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of Trenton Avenue and Norris Street.