Porchfest: The Ultimate Block Party

    Close the steets in the Patty Jewett neighborhood. Crank up the live, local music. Porchfest is back and even better.

    woodshed red plays porchfest
    Woodshed Red plays Porchfest. Photo by Tom Kimmell.

    On a golden Sunday afternoon early last autumn, hundreds of neighbors in the Patty Jewett neighborhood near downtown took to the streets. Or, more accurately, to the porches.

    It was the first local edition of a nationwide community-based music festival movement known as Porchfest. Part block party, part roving music festival, the event brings local musicians to various front porches for an afternoon of free concerts, and it returns to Colorado Springs on Sunday, Sept. 17.

    Porchfest began in 2007 in an Ithaca, New York, neighborhood, and has spread to more than 60 cities within a decade. Last year’s inaugural fest here drew over twice as many attendees as organizers expected, and this year they expect hundreds more.

    “We believe we are responsible for creating the community we want to live in,” says Amy Triandiflou, one of the founders behind Patty Jewett Porchfest. Triandiflou and her husband had attended a similar event in Atlanta, and she threw the idea out to a group of six neighborhood women while they were stuffing Easter eggs for the annual neighborhood hunt. Excited about bringing such an event to Colorado Springs, the group dove right into the necessary work of organizing bands, kids activities, food trucks, sponsorships and logistics.

    After such a warm welcome in its first year, the organizers are expanding for 2017, adding another porch, a fourth band and more than tripling the number of food trucks at each stop. (Full disclosure: I am on the organizing committee this year.)

    “Honestly, there is no shortage of porches to choose from in our neighborhood,” Triandiflou says of the leafy, historic area.

    The music will be as varied as the neighbors who attend, ranging this year from the Colorado College Bluegrass Ensemble to the funky Americana of local favorites Woodshed Red and the soulful troubadour wails of Mike Clark (of the Haunted Windchimes, River Arkansas and Sugar Sounds). Electricity for the stage amplification will be provided by the Mobile Music Project (MMP), an initiative that uses bicycles to power concert events, often in unlikely or off-the-grid locations. A face painter, balloon artist and bike rodeo for the kids are also in the works.

    With the roads closed and music flowing, Porchfest gives a chance for neighbors near and far to connect beyond drive-by waves or brief dog-walking hellos.

    Ashley Perry, a Patty Jewett resident, smiles as she recalls last year’s festival. “There was a sense of community that day, neighbors interacting with one another, kids playing in the streets or running through yards,” she says. “It made me real proud to live in such a tremendous neighborhood.”


    Porchfest 2017

    Sept. 17, beginning at noon

    Find full details, including lists of porch locations, band lineup and more than a delicious dozen participating food trucks at facebook.com/pjnacos.

    Know Before You Go

    map of porchfest 2017
    The porches of Porchfest 2017. Illustration by Tanya Shaw Jeffrey

    » Porchfest attendees are encouraged to bike or walk between porches. Streets will be closed in the immediate vicinity of each concert.

    » If driving to the festival, the recommended parking lot is located at Fontanero Street and N. Weber Street. It abuts the Shooks Run Trail, which will lead you directly to the first porch at Casa Verde Commons.

    » BYOLC: Bring your own lawn chair!

    » Come hungry. A dozen food trucks will be onsite throughout the event:
    Bison Brothers Food Truck
    Lucy, I’m Home
    The Burrito Box by Betty
    The Fiesta Grill
    Roll Up Food Truck
    Awaken Food Truck
    Witty Pork’s Woodfired Pizza and Dessert Truck
    Potato Potato
    Frosty Freeze
    Cupcake Truck
    Gold Star Pies
    Bon Appetit

     

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    The writer of the nationally-acclaimed Fuel/Friends music blog for the last decade, Heather Powell Browne curates the acoustic, downloadable Chapel Sessions and helped launch Ivywild Music. When she’s not writing, she enjoys warbling harmonies in friends’ bands, playing drums in her basement and coordinating international educational adventures for students at Colorado College.