Magnolia Soap Box Derby promises a day of springtime fun – Knight Foundation

Magnolia Soap Box Derby promises a day of springtime fun

It’s been almost 80 years since Macon hosted its first soap box derby. These multipurpose races involve design, science and sportsmanship, and they’ve been held in the city on an on-again, off-again basis throughout the decades.

In 2009, the Magnolia Soap Box Derby was started in conjunction with the College Hill Alliance, a Knight Arts grantee. Since then, the community affair has evolved into an annual event that nurtures the neighborhood by bringing elders and youths together. It’s an excellent project that exemplifies successful relationships and teamwork.

This year’s Magnolia Soap Box Derby will be held in Washington Park on April 11.

This year, the Magnolia Soap Box Derby will be held on April 11. It’s the first iteration of the event since organizers entered into a strategic partnership with Bragg Jam, the expanding arts organization behind the annual Macon music festival. On “Soapbox Saturday,” participants and attendees can expect food and entertainment, including performances from the Hayiya Dance Theatre and StreetLine drum line. Two renowned music mixers,  DJ Bruce Wonder and DJ Shawty Slim, will set the mood with the sounds. To top everything off, Corner Concerts will create a live stage show and food trucks will canvas the park.

Besides the adult soap box race and the free Big Wheel race for children, a new event category for teenagers called the Gravity Racing Challenge has been added this year. Funded through a grant from the Knight Neighborhood Challenge, the race is open to high school STEM students from Bibb County.

“It’s a family-friendly event,” Angel Collins, a member of the derby’s social committee and executive board, told me. “There are fewer [family-friendly events] than there should be in this community, but that helps this become an event to which people look forward. People can get together with friends and their kids in an environment and area where the kids can run around with minimal supervision. They can get together around the food trucks. We have high school-age kids participating for the first time when, before, all they could be were spectators. And we take it back to the adults with an afterparty at The ‘Bird. Kids and adults of all ages can participate in the races now, and that is a marvelous thing.”

The Magnolia Soap Box Derby will take place on April 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Washington Park on Magnolia Street. With its steep slope, this has to be one of the best roads for a soapbox race, and the park will transform into staging lanes and fun for all.