Porchfest Niagara: Let's Get Neighbourly!
By David DeRocco
According to Newton’s third law of motion, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Case in point: NIAGARA FALLS PORCHFEST, an equal, opposite – and entirely entertaining – reaction to the high price of big money music festivals.
When it comes to seeing musicians and artists ply their craft, you don’t get any more grassroots than PORCHFEST, an event scheduled for this Sunday, August 13th that local founder and organizer Shelley Glica says is all about community.
“Porchfest is a community-building event that showcases the immense talent we have in Niagara Falls and the Niagara Region,” said Glica. “Porchfest has the spirit of a busking event, but this year with a larger grant from the city’s Arts, Culture and Museum Committee, we are able to offer the performers a payment to participate. This is our second year, and I’ve been amazed how many people supported the idea in the first year. We have grown to include several more porches this year, as well as musicians and a few artists who will be painting or drawing at select porches.”
Last year’s inaugural PORCHFEST was a three-hour event that saw nearly 40 musicians performing jazz, rockabilly, roots and gospel music across over a dozen front lawns and porches in Niagara Falls. Those streets included Huron Street, McCrae Street, Second Avenue, Jepson, River Road and in front of the Niagara Military Museum on Victoria Avenue. Glica adopted the community Porchfest idea from similar festivals now held across the U.S., all modeled after the original event which took place in 2007 in Ithica, New York.
Like the name implies, Porchfest involves groups of musicians and artist performing on porches in the residential neighbourhoods of downtown Niagara Falls. The event is designed to encourage music fans to wander from porch to porch, exploring the neighbourhood, meeting new people and enjoying the talents of local musicians. As for the multiple hosts of PORCHFEST, Glica says their roles are vitally important to the success of the festival.
“The porch hosts play the role of stage manager, ensuring everything is running smoothly on their porch and that each set switches at the appropriate time. Other than that, they get to enjoy the beautiful music, and some porches get to also enjoy the art. We deliver each porch a case of water to freely hand out to attendees and performers, which we started last year as it was sweltering hot.”
While PORCHFEST organizers have taken measures to ensure you stay hydrated, they have also taken steps to ensure you don’t get soaked: the event is free, but tip jars are located on each porch to allow you the option to reward the performers.
For a full map and performance schedule for PORCHFEST 2017, visit http://porchfestnf.ca.