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PorchFest, a musical round-robin affair, had villagers and visitors walking to porches, driveways and backyards to hear a wide array of local musicians perform. (Photo by Matthew Collins)

PorchFest, a musical round-robin affair, had villagers and visitors walking to porches, driveways and backyards to hear a wide array of local musicians perform in 2018. (Photo by Matthew Collins)

Porchfest on hold, for now

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Beloved local music festival Porchfest is likely on hiatus, according to the event’s organizers — though they hope it’s a temporary one.

The News spoke with Porchfest co-founder Brittany Baum this week; Baum said that the event, originally scheduled for September, is entirely organized and run by a group of volunteers — but the group’s ability to devote time and energy to the effort has begun to flag in recent years.

“All the volunteers we have, they’ve been volunteers for quite some time now,” she said. “Over the years, life has happened, with new jobs, babies, relationships, that kind of thing — it’s really starting to affect our availability.”

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Porchfest debuted in the village in October of 2018, and was co-produced by Baum and Rachel Price that year. The very first Porchfest — a festival in which musicians give free concerts from porches, patios and yards around town — was held in Ithaca, New York in 2007, and the idea spread across the U.S. in the years that followed.

Baum told the News in 2018 that she first heard of the nationwide event at a meeting of the Arts and Culture Commission, when a fellow member described Dayton’s Porchfest.

“I thought, ‘What an awesome idea. Yellow Springs has so many musicians,’” Baum told the News that year.

The event has been a popular draw in the village since its first iteration, bringing both locals and out-of-town visitors into village yards each year since the first event, with the exception of 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baum told the News this week that, in addition to personal roadblocks, the pandemic took its toll on Porchfest beyond the canceled 2020 event; as the world continues to rebuild itself post-pandemic, some resources — material, physical and mental — are harder to come by for small organizing groups.

“There have just been so many changes, even outside of our own hands and our own lives, that have affected the planning of Porchfest,” Baum said. “Before COVID, we still had a full-time director for the Chamber [of Commerce].”

Porchfest is a nonprofit event, with event-goers donating funds, if they so choose, directly to the musicians they see perform. Folks have also donated money directly to organizers in the past, with those funds being used to pay for advertising the festival and maintain the event’s website — beyond that, Baum said, any donated money has been distributed among the performing artists.

Because Porchfest’s organizers are not incorporated as a nonprofit organization themselves, they have enlisted other nonprofits to serve as fiscal sponsors in the past — first the YS Arts Council, and then the YS Community Foundation. Baum said she and other Porchfest organizers hope to pass the event torch on to an entity with 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in the future.

“If we could find an organization that has that status, it may streamline the entire process,” she said. “Having an actual home for [Porchfest] would be a huge relief — if it had a home, maybe there would already be some resources or volunteers built in.”

Baum added that, though it was a tough decision for organizers to put Porchfest on hold, they aim to use this year to attempt to find another entity that could help continue the local event.

“That’s kind of our key target for this year — finding a new home for Porchfest,” she said. “We’re ready to turn over the reins, and we’d love to help with a transition process — we have some really great systems put in place, with timelines. … I’m hopeful that the Chamber [of Commerce] can be involved, especially if they get a new director down the road.”

Baum added that, though another group of volunteers could potentially take over planning and running the festival, she hopes the event will ultimately be taken on by an organization or group of organizations with the infrastructure in place to keep Porchfest running at a sustainable level.

“We’d hate to hand it over to another group of volunteers who then run into the same issues,” she said. “We’ve put so many hours and years into Porchfest — we want to see it succeed in the long-term.”

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2 Responses to “Porchfest on hold, for now”

  1. Asia White says:

    Hey there! I have a great idea that may help.
    I’d love the chance to hop on this wagon

  2. Kami Berkey says:

    I would like to help porchfest, can you pass the message to the current organizers?

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