Corvallis renaissance


Max Braly, News Producer

Leonardo da Vinci was both an artist and a scientist, and his spirit will be alive in Corvallis this weekend when the da Vinci Days arts and science festival kicks off at the Benton County Fairgrounds.

The free-to-enter festival is geared toward highlighting the creative applications of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics in the Corvallis community, according to da Vinci Days Festival Director Carole Hobrock.

“It’s not just about adding art,” Hobrock said. “It’s how do you use all of those schools of thought to create change in the world.”

One aspect of da Vinci Days meant to combine these elements is the Graand Kinetic Challenge. This test of ingenuity is centered around a 20-mile, human-powered sculpture race, which takes place over Saturday and Sunday. The goal is to use a single racing sculpture to traverse multiple types of terrain—including sand dunes, a mud bog and the Willamette river—using only human power.

One Graand Kinetic Challenge contestant, Reed Lacy, said that the race is a really nice fit for da Vinci Days.

“(Leonardo) da Vinci was an artist and a scientist and an engineer, and all those aspects really come into play (during the Graand Kinetic Challenge),” Lacy said. “For the race, you don’t just build a sculpture and roll it around here.”

According to Hobrock, the Grand Kinetic Challenge is an integral part of da Vinci Days. The challenge has been taking place since 1988, the festival’s founding year. Some racers even travel to compete in other races all along the west coast. This year, the Graand Kinetic Challenge will have 15 contestants, which, according to Lacy, is fewer than previous years.

“I don’t think you could have da Vinci Days without the kinetic sculpture,” Hobrock said. “(The Graand Kinetic Challenge) is big and it’s weird and it’s fun.”

This year will mark the return of the Graand Kinetic Challenge parade after it was excluded from last year’s race. According to Lacy, the sculptures—including his own, which he calls ‘Brave Sir Father and His Merry Minstrel’—will pedal in a leisurely oval pattern before beginning the more competitive pace of the race.

While the Graand Kinetic Challenge is taking place, many other activities and events will be occurring. This year’s da Vinci Days will feature local musicians, such as The Svens, Cassandra Robertson, Flamenco Pacifico and the headlining act, Belly Full of Bob. Belly Full of Bob is a Bob Marley tribute band that has performed as a part of da Vinci Days before.

“Last year, Belly Full of Bob really did an amazing job and I really enjoyed that concert,” Heuchert said. “I’m looking forward to them coming back again.”

The festival will also feature local food vendors. Block 15 started its involvement as a da Vinci Days vendor six years ago. Its beer will be featured alongside cider from Two Towns Ciderhouse and wines from Lumos and 3 Fools. According to Chris Huechert, who serves both as Block 15 general manager and board president of da Vinci Days, Block 15 wanted to get involved with the community and thought joining with da Vinci Days would be a good way to do that.

“We really saw a combination of the creativity of craft brewing and the creativity of who (Leonardo) da Vinci was as a nice blend,” Huechert said. “That idea of art, science and technology blending together—we see that extension into craft brewing. Not just making a simple IPA, but pressing the edges of what craft beer can be and really encouraging people to expand their palate.”

According to Huechert, brewing beer embodies the STEAM mindset. He said that brewers who fail to follow the process of brewing or fail to keep their instruments clean will produce a beer that does not taste up to par. For Huechert, it is the art of brewing—not the science—that gives a beer its personality and flavor.

Hobrock views da Vinci Days as a reflection of who Corvallis citizens are and what is important to them. She said that Corvallis is one of the most highly-educated cities in the United States per capita, and she believes that da Vinci Days combines two of the city’s important communities: the artistic and the scientific.

“The things that make Corvallis livable—the art, the music, the foodie culture, the craft beer culture—we embody all of that, bring it all together in one place and say ‘Here we are. Come have fun,’” Hobrock said.

Was this article helpful?