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da Vinci Days Festival gains a lot of STEAM in its fourth year after reinvention


By Erin O’Shea Sneller,; and Nick Houtman,


Contact: Carole Hobrock,


Links to photos are available at the end of this story.


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Home-made electric race cars, an illuminated night parade and a cycling challenge for kids will highlight the annual da Vinci Days festival July 19-21 at the Benton County Fairgrounds. The longstanding Corvallis summer tradition includes a keynote speaker, entertainment, food, local beer and wine, interactive displays, and of course, the Graand Kinetic Challenge (GKC).


This is the fourth year of the reinvented festival, after budget challenges forced the eclectic Corvallis STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) celebration to temporarily suspend operations in 2013. The main festival moved from its sprawling downtown locations to its current home at the fairgrounds in 2016. According to Eric Nielsen, president of the da Vinci Days Board of Directors, “it has morphed into a right-sized, free-to-all festival.”


Some of the most popular aspects of the original festival are being combined with new elements. An estimated crowd of 4,000 people attended da Vinci Days last summer.


On July 20, the Kids Kinetic Challenge will offer youth the chance to put their bikes or other wheeled creations through a course similar to the one used by adults in the Graand Kinetic Challenge. Kids must be at least six years old and can decorate their bikes at the fairgrounds before the event.


A variety of local restaurants and food trucks — including Lani Moku Grill, Francescos, Gourmet Hometown Heroes, Lil Porkies, Kell’s Kitchen, Delicias Valley Café, and The Kalamata Bistro — will offer their fare throughout the day.


On Saturday and Sunday, the Graand Kinetic Challenge will feature human-powered vehicles navigating a course through mud, sand and water. Vehicles will gain extra points for being illuminated and parading through the fairgrounds on Saturday night.


This year’s schedule includes:

Friday, July 19, at 7 p.m. — Keynote talk: “River Running in a Time of Climate Change.” Jeff Behan of the Oregon State University Institute for Natural Resources and veteran river guide, will show photos from his nearly 40 years of expeditions down the Colorado River. The LaSells Stewart Center, 220 SW 26th Street.


Saturday, July 20, 9 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. “Making Waves” Summer Festival and Graand Kinetic Challenge, Benton County Fairgrounds, 110 SW 53rd Street. Saturday’s lineup includes Re’ala Fire, a roaming stilt walker and Katie Pippel, a fire dancer, as well as:

9 a.m.                    Tech check and judging for Graand Kinetic Challenge

10 a.m.- 5 p.m.     Interactive exhibits

10 a.m.                  Bike decorating for Kids Kinetic Challenge

11 a.m.                  Graand Kinetic Pagentry and Road Race

1 p.m.                    Sakumuna (African, World Music)

2:45 p.m.              yOya (L.A. infused singer-songwriter)

4:30 p.m.              Brutal Bridges (rock)

6-7 p.m.                Electrathon Road Race 

6:15 p.m.              Lisa Landucci Band (country rock, Americana)

8 p.m.                    DTW (funk, dance band)

9:15 p.m.              Lumenata Light Parade led by DTW and the GKC


Sunday, July 21, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Graand Kinetic Challenge continues with the mud bog at Crystal Lake Sports Complex, 100 SE Fischer Lane, and float down the Willamette River to boat ramp in downtown Corvallis.


Admission to all events is free. Parking at the Benton County Fairgrounds is $5, but a free shuttle will operate from downtown Corvallis to the fairgrounds. 


The da Vinci Days Festival is community supported. Donations to da Vinci Days are encouraged and accepted at all locations.


Da Vinci Days is sponsored by: HP, Oregon State University, City of Corvallis, Benton County, First Alternative Co-op, and supported by: Block 15 Brewing, 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Special Occasions, Linn-Benton Community College, NuScale Power, Lumos Wine Company and Corvallis Radiology.


Note to editors: Digital images are available for download and use with this story. Attached photos are by Greg Bal (2018). Photos from 2017 festival by Yancy Falkner are available here.


About da Vinci Days: da Vinci Days is Oregon’s premier arts, science and technology festival, taking place the third weekend in July in Corvallis. The Graand Kinetic Challenge kinetic sculpture race is the central focus of the festival, where human-powered vehicles are judged on their artistry and creativity, along with their ability to conquer the obstacles of sand, mud, water and street courses. The festival also includes regional food, beverages, entertainment, and a wide array of STEAM-related displays and activities. In addition to the summer festival, da Vinci Days hosts a STEAM lecture series weekly throughout the month of April.