The downtown streets were bustling on November’s First Friday last week. The cooler weather ushered in an enjoyable evening of strolling the shops, galleries and restaurants that line the historic retail area.
But among the revelry, a small cluster of people gathered around a display table outside of hotspot Tipsy McSway’s. There, they were being offered maps and other paraphernalia for an upcoming event — PorchFest.
Manned by members of the organizing committee, the booth was geared toward getting the public excited about the music-centric walking tour of the SoGlo (South of Gloucester Street) neighborhood, which will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
While the concept is as eclectic as the neighborhood itself, it is an event modeled after a program held in another city. Susan Bates, committee member and owner of Tipsy McSway’s, says that the idea for a Brunswick PorchFest started in 2018.
“A few of us neighbors had seen a video of PorchFest in Ithaca, N.Y., and felt like it was something we could pull off. Our neighborhood is perfectly suited to this type of event,” she said.
It’s simple enough in theory. Bands are invited to play on various porches while participants walk through the area to check out the music, socialize with friends and gain a greater appreciation of the downtown area. There will also be food trucks situated to feed attendees.
Bates says the style of the historic homes in the neighborhood fit the plan perfectly.
“We have lots of glorious porches in a relatively compact area plus tons of amazing musicians. We felt like we should really give it a try. The first year we were hoping for 12 bands and porches,” she said.
“We were thrilled to end up with 30 porches and bands. This is our second year and have booked 45 bands and porches.”
The bands’ participation is a testament to the spirit of the area, with many local musicians calling SoGlo home.
But Bates said that everyone has been eager to do what they can for the cause.
“Everyone donates their time. It’s a free event featuring giving people and their porches plus bands showing their gratitude to the community,” Bates said.
“We’ve added trolley service along Union St., a few more food trucks, porch decorating contest, a tie-dye station and lots of beverage stations.”
The starting point of the tour is the centrally located Brunswick Manor, 825 Egmont St. From there, participants can meander through the streets stopping at beverage stations (alcohol must be consumed on private property) and enjoying the tunes.
At 5 p.m., the Pinebox Dwellers will perform at the manor, followed by a 6 p.m. after party featuring Them Vagabonds at Tipsy McSway’s.
While the event will undoubtedly be a good time, those who call the SoGlo area home are hoping to acquaint the Isles as a whole more intimately with the funky flare that defines downtown.
Committee member Ashby Worley-Nix hopes that the community will come to see what makes the ares so unique.
“Our historic neighborhood is welcoming and definitely worth spending a beautiful afternoon in. It’s great to have the whole neighborhood working together to bring a fun, family-friendly event with talented entertainment showcased on beautiful porches to celebrate our community,” Worley-Nix said.
“It’s neighbors getting to know neighbors, and inviting the community to spend the day with us in this special part of downtown.”