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Umbrellas, confetti and little orange towels were present in equal measure on Saturday when the Kensington Derby & Arts Festival returned after a two-year pandemic break.
The street fair, presented by the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, has been a thing since 2007. Its most unique feature — originally called the Kinetic Sculpture Derby — is an obstacle course featuring contestants riding human-powered contraptions, where the only design requirement is that the vehicles can maintain a speed of at least 3 mph.
When the New Kensington Community Development Corporation started the purposely wacky event 15 years ago, organizers hoped it would bring attention to local artists, neighborhood businesses, and the area’s commercial corridors. Judging by this weekend’s turnout, it’s working as intended.
Despite consistent rain throughout the day, hundreds of people descended on the area around Trenton Avenue between Norris and Frankford to stroll through 100 vendors selling food, drinks, handmade goods, and art.
Festival-goers also cheered on racers, who navigated around beer kegs, bubbles, and clouds of glitter before reaching the finale: an iconic mud pit that participants had to wade through for the chance to win one of 10 categories.
As one attendee put it, Hall & Oates was playing, people were screaming and there was mud everywhere: about as Philly as it gets.
Scroll down for pics of the event subtitled “Return of the Mud.”