Midtown residents hope PorchfestKC will continue


PorchFest 2014 in the West Plaza neighborhood.

PorchFest 2014 in the West Plaza neighborhood.

Since word leaked out this week that the popular PorchFestKC was looking for a new home, residents across the city have been urging their neighborhood associations to try to get the music festival moved to their part of town.

In the two years since it got started in Kansas City, PorchFestKC has become a beloved Midtown event. It began when Kathryn Golden, a transplant to the West Plaza neighborhood, approached the neighborhood with an idea. She said PorchFests – community music celebrations, usually in older historical neighborhoods, where musicians play music on people’s front porches – were becoming popular in other cities.

The West Plaza Neighborhood Association thought it sounded interesting and agreed to sponsor the festival in the neighborhood.

“We were willing to take a chance on this new concept,” Julie Tenenbaum, a West Plaza board member, says.

PorchFestKC was an immediate success. The first year it attracted 3,500 people; the second year 5,000. The bands loved the chance to get out of bars and play music in the fresh air. The neighborhood loved getting the word out about what a great place it is to live. And those who attended PorchFest loved strolling around the neighborhood listening to music.

But when a story about PorchFests across the country appeared this week on the CocaCola website, some people learned that Golden was looking for a new location for the Kansas City event. The Pitch followed up with an article, and social media lit up with people urging their associations to try to get the event moved to their neighborhood.

Tenenbaum says for West Plaza, a small neighborhood with narrow streets, tight parking, small yards, and a volunteer board of directors, PorchFestKC became too much to handle. After much discussion, the West Plaza board made the decision not to host the event again, for a number of reasons.

“Most importantly, the event grew so big so fast,” Tenenbaum says. “We had safety concerns as well as liability concerns: traffic, parking, alcohol brought in by party-goers, even though we declared it an alcohol-free event. We could not see the event becoming smaller; it was a given that it would continue to grow.”

She says the West Plaza board hopes another neighborhood will take on the event and continue its success.

Golden, meanwhile, has been bombarded with requests from neighborhoods interested in PorchFest. She says she’s willing to provide them information about what she learned so far: both the great things about PorchFest and the messier parts neighborhoods might need to deal with if they want to hold a big music party in their streets.

“I love the community aspect, people getting out of their cars and coming together in a simple, organic way,” she says of the event. She also likes that PorchFest gets musicians and music lovers out of the bars, exposes people to new music they might not hear otherwise, and brings together people of all ages.

Right now, she’s talking to other neighborhoods who might be interested in hosting the event, which she plans to move to October this year.

“I would like PorchFest to continue and I would like it to stay central,” she says.

If your neighborhood wants to know more, you can reach Golden at porchfestKC@gmail.com.

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