15th Annual Kensington Derby and Arts Festival Brings Back the Mud, Live Music, Food Trucks and New Opportunities

-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events

The Fishtown District is proud to announce the 15th Annual Kensington Derby and Arts Festival will return on Saturday, May 13, 2023, on Trenton Avenue from Norris Street to Frankford Avenue, from 12 Noon to 6:00pm. Philadelphia’s most unique spring festival – and 2023 Best of Philly Winner – is back and ready to let the mud fly! The festival brings Philadelphia locals and visitors together with 200+ artists, musicians, performers, food and drink—and a parade of homemade vehicles.  A new parade route spanning across three miles, takes these homemade vehicles from the festival start through the Fishtown neighborhood and over to American St, navigating multiple obstacles along the way, before doubling back to the festival grounds for a mud pit finish. Winners will be crowned in categories that have ranged over the years like Best Art, Best Costume, Best Engineering, Best Breakdown, Media Choice and, of course, the highly coveted Judge’s Choice Award. NextFab is partnering with the Festival this year to host monthly demos, consults and support for those preparing for the grand event. Thanks to generous support from Penn Treaty Special Services District, there is no fee to enter in the Derby parade. Registration is now open! For more information and to sign-up, visit www.kensingtonkineticarts.org.

Over 15,000 people are expected to come out and cheer them on along the three mile obstacle course that stretches through East Kensington and Fishtown. Mud, bubbles and other obstacles along the route will be presented by some of the District’s biggest names, including Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia Brewing Co. and many others. This event has grown into an annual fundraising effort for East Kensington Neighbors Association and supports their ongoing mini-grant program, which gives back to local nonprofits and businesses in the East Kensington neighborhood.  

New this year, the Fishtown District is partnering with NextFab at 1800 N American St to be the HQ of the Kensington Derby.  As such, they will provide technical assistance to Derby teams assembling their sculptures, and as a part of this partnership, NextFab is providing FREE three month memberships at their 1800 N American St facility to a select few interested teams.  

In addition to offering free short term memberships, NextFab will also be hosting monthly demos, technical consultations and support hours for questions/help during their Second Thursday programming (dates below).  During these workshops, Rabbit Recycling will also host a pop-up with a broad selection of materials to snag for your sculptures!

“The mud is ready to fly once again on Trenton Avenue!,” said Fishtown District Director of Operations Kae Anderson. “NextFab is thrilled to be partnering with the Kensington Derby this year as the official Kensington Derby HQ! By opening up our makerspace for a three-month workshop series, teams will be advised by our technical experts on how to construct beautiful and functional sculptures. Additionally, in a pop-up hosted by our partner, Rabbit Recycling, teams will have access to free sustainable building materials.

She added, “Art and engineering  have always been the focal point of this event, and now thanks to our partnership with NextFab, this year’s derby will be more inclusive and accessible than ever before. We are excited to see what wacky creations our derby teams come up with this year for our 15th anniversary.”

“As a newer business in the Kensington neighborhood, we’re excited to bring our community of artists, makers, and shakers together for this exciting event!,” said Rebecca Ledbetter, Director of Marketing, NextFab.

The event is widely known as one of the largest spring festivals in the tri-state region – and it has a reputation as being one of the city’s most memorable and unique events that goes beyond just food, drink and vendors. The event brings vendors, performers, musicians, food trucks, local businesses and neighbors together in a way that is as unique as the two prominent and fast-growing neighborhoods it takes place in. Last year, to add to the grandness and excitement, the event took place in pouring rain – with the mud flying more than ever! As a testament to how beloved this long-time event is, thousands came out and not just watched and participated but thousands stayed all day long as umbrellas darted the race course. This year the event is rain or shine – with shine preferred!

Registration is now open for competitors! Thanks to generous support from Penn Treaty Special Services District, there is no fee to participate in the Derby parade this year.

This year’s derby route will start at Trenton and Dauphin. From there, teams will make their way through the course, hitting obstacles sponsored by various local small businesses.

Derby Judges:
Councilman Mark Squilla, 1st District City Council
Marc Collazzo, Fishtown District
Rebecca Ledbetter, NextFab
Christopher Wink, Technical.ly
More to be announced!

Riverwards Produce
Lutheran Settlement House
Two Robbers
Johnny Brenda’s
Punch Buggy Brewing Company
Stateside Vodka
Mud Pit

Derby Prize Categories
Bob Phillips Memorial “Best Small Team” Award
Charlie Walton Memorial “Best Large Team” Award
East Kensington Neighbors Association’s “People’s Choice” Award
Fishtown District’s “Judges’ Choice” Award
Other categories to be announced!

ARTS AND FOOD FESTIVAL– Over 100+ vendors will include nearly two dozen food trucks, a half dozen beverage vendors, and 75+ makers, artists and community organizations.

Community Groups, Sponsors and Others
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
Burning Spirits Muay Thai
Coral Street Arts House
Green Mountain Energy
JA Cunningham
NRG Energy
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union
Philly Bike Ride
School of Rock Philadelphia
The Clay Studio
TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image

MUSIC AND STAGE PROGRAM– Get ready to rock in the streets once again with a line-up that reads like a who’s who of the local music scene – with more to be announced.

Main Stage
12:00pm – Yahn I Arkestra
1:00pm – Gabrielle Chapman & the Vortex
2:00pm – New Groove
3:00pm – Rockers Galore
4:00pm – Ardvark Felon
5:00pm – Gretchen Emery Band

Mud Pit Stage:
12:00pm – New Groove
1:00pm – Derby kick-off
1:30pm – DJ Rebel Foster
3:00pm – Mud Pit and Derby Awards Ceremony
4:00pm – Son of the 215

4:30pm – DJ Pooh Geez

More information about the festival, with registration for art vendors and derby teams, can be found at www.kensingtonkineticarts.org.. Stay up-to-date with festival news on Facebook or Instagram.

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