You don’t have to live in the Patty Jewett area of Colorado Springs to get an invite to the neighborhood’s Porchfest.
But you should feel lucky to get an invite. Because the Patty Jewett residents will probably be the ones to show you how it’s done.
Find your spot in front of the first of three porches. Unless you’re early, this will feel like a scavenger hunt, searching for an empty space among the crowd. As you’re enjoying the music, you’ll want to be ready for when it ends. Because that’s when you should probably grab your chairs and coolers and make a dash — by foot or bike or whatever — to stake your spot near the second porch. Repeat for the third porch.
What these barebones instructions don’t say is each step offers a different kind of one-of-a-kind-fun. Fun when you’re sitting on a curb or on a blanket in someone’s yard surrounded by friends or strangers. Fun when you’re watching local musicians give it their all while performing in the unlikely and cozy setting of a front porch. Fun when you’re in the middle of the street walking or riding to the next place, once again surrounded by people headed happily in the same direction.
At her first Porchfest, those were all the reasons Ingrid Black remembers thinking, “Woah, this is awesome.”
She’s not alone. The one-day grassroots music festival has grown a ton since it started in 2016, when it drew 500 people. In recent years, that number has jumped up to more than 4,000 people, Black said.
As she said, “it’s like a huge barbecue with all your friends.”
And instead of all your friends, it’s all your friends plus all the friends they invite. And instead of tunes on the stereo, music is provided by some of the best musicians in town.
Many of those friends become hooked on Porchfest.
Black, for one, moved to Patty Jewett in 2015 and “immediately fell in love with the neighborhood.” She then offered up her house for Porchfest and joined the event’s planning committee, which she’s proud to note consists of five working women.
They’re carrying on a tradition started in 2007 by a couple of neighbors living in Ithaca, N.Y. Since then, more than 150 places across the world have started their own Porchfests.
Unlike other locations, the Colorado Springs event hasn’t grown its number of participating porches or bands over the years.
The motto is still, “Three Bands, Three Porches, One Great Community.”
This Sunday’s lineup includes local bands Stray Suns, Mango fan Django and Redraw the Farm. There will still be plenty of food trucks along with kids activities.
There are some light changes, as the fest will spread out over five blocks instead of three.
And, as “a jab to COVID,” all three participating houses are on Patty Jewett’s Corona Street.
As the event was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Patty Jewett Neighborhood Association polled residents about having it come back this September.
“It was a 93% thumbs-up,” Black said. “It speaks to what we value in our neighborhood and how important it is for us to connect to each other.”
It’s the kind of place where neighbors tend to hang out on each other’s porches every weekend. So, in a way, Porchfest is just a bigger version of that.
“We have so much pride in living here,” Black said. “It’s so much fun to share it and invite friends to be part of it.”