CORVALLIS, OR — The board of directors of da Vinci Days, the iconic Corvallis festival of art, science and technology, has voted to end the annual event that was first held in 1989. Citing challenges amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic, the board agreed unanimously that there is no clear financial path forward.
“As a nonprofit, we are competing with many others for available grants and sponsorships,” said Carole Hobrock, who has served part time as the executive director of the organization since 2016. “Many of our sponsors are struggling to keep their own businesses afloat, and several have suspended their 2020 support with no clear view of when, or if, they will be able to help us again. Others who have donated this year have indicated that ongoing support at the same level, if at all, is unlikely.”
A factor in the decision to end the festival was the cancellation of a major fundraiser. The da Vinci Days board had scheduled a concert with the popular Portland-based musical group Pink Martini last April and rescheduled it for January 2021, but the event has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although tickets were sold as non-refundable, the da Vinci Days Board elected to refund ticket sales.
The future of the Graand Kinetic Challenge (GKC) is under discussion by members of the da Vinci Days organization. The annual GKC race features creative human-powered machines designed to travel in sand, mud and water. Held in conjunction with the da Vinci Days festival, it was limited this year to online presentations, as were the annual STEAM lecture series and other events.
da Vinci Days began as a way to attract people to Corvallis during the summer months. The festival featured music, food, entertainment and educational displays on the tree-lined open space of the lower OSU campus. In 2013, the festival took a three-year hiatus, after which the festival was held as a free one-day event at the Benton County Fairgrounds.
“Those who have attended our events value and celebrate the things that make Corvallis and Benton County vibrant and innovative, as we do,” said Hobrock. “Even as we elect to close down da Vinci Days, we are making room for something new and fresh in Corvallis. We are confident that creative, innovative citizens will come up with events that speak to the current passions and needs of the community.”