Carmel PorchFest back in the groove

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What began as a grassroots effort in Upstate New York to present music in a community setting has blossomed into a wildly popular event in downtown Carmel.

Featuring nearly 60 local band and musicians on nearly two dozen porches, the eighth annual Carmel PorchFest will be presented from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 19 throughout the Carmel Arts & Design District. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people are expected to attend the free, family-friendly event, which has grown exponentially since its 2014 debut.

Last year’s PorchFest was presented virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Carmel community has supported PorchFest every year,” said PorchFest Event Manager Sondra Schwieterman, who has been in her position since 2018. “Each year, the event has grown in attendance and participation. Since 2018, we’ve increased the number of bands participating and the number of vendors at the event. Attendance has also increased each year, along with sponsorship involvement.

“People in the community look forward to offering up their porches each year, and we rarely have any issues getting the public to volunteer.”

PorchFests, which originated in Ithaca, New York, in 2007, are music festivals designed to bring neighbors and local communities together. They are presented annually across the U.S. and Canada on front porches and traditionally feature local musicians.

Carmel’s 2021 PorchFest will feature a record 58 bands on a record 21 porches. Guests are permitted to bring coolers, food, beverages, chairs and blankets. Dogs are permitted on leashes.

“Of course, we will have plenty of food and beverage vendors,” Schwieterman said. “But we want the event to remain a casual, community event.”

Vendors include Bier Brewery, Sugar Creek Winery, Peace Water Winery, Java House, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria and Market District Supermarket.

Apart from vendors, music is the star attraction. Styles range from acoustic to electric and solo to ensemble, touching an assortment of musical genres. Bands/artists include Amy Thorn & the Nightcaps; Bedhead; Breanna Faith; Circuit Thursday; Convoy; Dear Lincoln; Derek Lee Bishop; Five After Midnight; Hannah and Jarred; Indy Gorgeous Club; island Party; and Keith Rea, among dozens of others.

“(PorchFest) began as a grassroots opportunity to bring the community together and showcase local musical talent in a casual setting,” Schwieterman said. “Since its beginnings in Ithaca, PorchFest has expanded to cities all across the United States, with Carmel joining the ranks in 2014. The goal for the Carmel location was to highlight the lesser-known streets in the district to show the great uptown neighborhood that comprises the Arts & Design District.”

Volunteer-driven in the early years, Carmel PorchFest is now an incorporated organization that also presents Carmel’s Late Night on Main events. PorchFest weekend kicks off Sept. 17 with Late Night on Main performances by the Brothers Footman at 9 p.m., followed at 10:30 p.m. by Rain Dogs.

For the full lineup of bands/artists, porch schedules, street maps and parking information, visit carmelporchfest.org.


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