With the melding of historic homes and commercial buildings with eclectic eateries and galleries, it’s hard not to love downtown Brunswick. And, of course, the people make the area even more special.
Those who call Old Town home have a deep connection to their neighborhood and they relish sharing it with others. That was part of the reason that a group of SoGlo-ers (those who live South of Gloucester Street) came together to host the inaugural PorchFest in 2018.
The concept was borrowed from other communities, says Ashby Worley, a member of the planning committee. But the unique Brunswick vibe offered an appeal all its own.
“PorchFest isn’t new, and in fact PorchFest started in Ithaca, N.Y., in 2007 and now it’s a popular event nationwide. Some downtown Brunswick neighbors had been discussing how great it would be to host our own after enjoying the one in Oakhurst in Atlanta,” she said.
“It seemed like the perfect way to showcase our eclectic downtown neighborhood and our talented local musicians. We built a team of enthusiastic neighbors in early 2018 and started planning it. I was just happy to join and help make it a reality.”
The group spent months pulling the details together, recruiting home owners who would willingly host bands on their porches (a critical piece considering the event is called PorchFest). Once everything was in place, they put out the word and invited one in all to participate.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate the first year. It rained heavily. But not to be deterred, people still came out and enjoyed the afternoon.
“We had a great turnout, with people dancing in the rain, carrying their tents around to see all the music, really making the most of the day. We all look back on that first PorchFest as being so special — it reminded us just why we love downtown Brunswick,” she said.
For 2019, the committee rolled the dice again — and the weather was perfect. Crisp, cool and clear, thousands took to the streets for an incredibly successful event.
“We saw the community come out to support this event at a whole new level and in so many ways from local sponsorships to an incredible band turnout (around 50) and really enthusiastic porch hosts and neighbors. It attracted a crowd like we never imagined and truly blew us away,” she said.
As with most things, PorchFest had to be shelved for 2020. But it will return this year, from noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 14 along the streets of the historic district. The festive theme will be “Yardi Gras.” Worley says the rain or shine event will include all of the elements attendees have come to expect with extra safety protocol due to COVID.
But Worley says it will still be a grand time.
“You’ll see an awesome lineup of bands and various talents playing on beautiful (and some decorated) downtown porches, more food trucks, a kids craft zone, merchandise for sale, the trolley and more — all for free,” she said.
“We’ll be promoting COVID safety and appreciate everyone that has already donated time, talent or support towards the event. It’s our neighborhood and our community at its finest, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone that day.”
Crawford Perkins agrees. The musician, as well as a downtown business owner (SoGlo Guitars) and resident will be performing on a porch again this year.
But even more than the draw of talented musicians, Perkins hopes that the community will come to get a true understanding of what SoGlo is all about.
“I’m a SoGlo fan through-and-through. My wife and I live here, eat here, socialize here and my business is here. As a musician, there’s nothing more I’d rather do than contribute to the promotion of our awesome little community,” he said.
“It’s vibe that is a breath of fresh air from the rest of town, even the island. We’re very relaxed and welcoming to all. And it’s because we’re a melting pot of races, religions, ages, financial status and lifestyles. And we love having a good time. So many that live here moved to SoGlo because of their experience while visiting.”