Kinetic Sculpture Race

Every year since 1969, as summer is welcomed back to Humboldt County and the Redwood Curtain, so is the kinetic sculpture race. It is a 3-day triathlon consisting of oddly, expertly, and fascinatingly built structures meant to sustain land, sand, mud, and water. The point of it all is “for the glory,” and it is a quintessential Humboldt event full of local flavor and enthusiasm. It is part race, part art show, and part engineering contest.

Participants (including Six Rivers Rafting boat repair guru Todd Williamson) spend months constructing these moving works of art and once they are assembled, with the teams ready to go, they parade around the plaza in a sort of fashion show as crowds of onlookers marvel at these bizarre and wondrous animated structures. From there, they proceed through the quaint and lively town of Arcata, then take the picturesque Samoa route towards Eureka, passing through Humboldt Bay, and then onwards towards Cannibal Island to celebrate the festivities and the “glory!”

The kinetic sculpture race happens every Memorial Day Weekend, and in 2022 featured a fire-breathing steampunk dragon, a bike with the most massive wheels ever seen, a giant can of tuna boasting 10,000 grams of protein, and many others. The champions of this year were The Humpbacks of Notre Dame, who glided through the race with the team in matching red hats and blue shirts on a big yellow structure complete with their very own humpback whale soaring above them.

Kinetic sculpture races have now popped up as an annual event all over the world, but it is noteworthy to mention that the Humboldt race was the first among all of them. Come to Humboldt next year and witness the adventurous quirky event, and experience these multi-element functioning, artistic structures brought to life! Then come rafting with Six Rivers Rafting and see why spring on the river is our favorite!

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