Pick a porch on Prospect and enjoy the music
Last year, Hagerstown’s PorchFest was called off because of the threat of hurricane-related storms. While area weather ended up better, the decision to cancel already had been made.
“Word didn’t quite fully spread that the event was canceled. People showed up and they were really disappointed,” Delia Zielinski said.
Zielinski is a PorchFest volunteer with Historic Heights Neighborhoods 1st group, and she avows that this year, the popular event scheduled Saturday on South Prospect Street will take place.
“Because it was canceled last year, we are especially excited this year,” she said. “It looks like it’s going to be sunny, but we are promising to run it rain or shine.”
Hagerstown’s PorchFest sprang up in 2013 from the Historic Heights Neighborhoods 1st group, one of roughly a dozen such groups in the city that meet monthly to discuss what’s happening in the neighborhood.
“We meet with neighbors, police officers. One or two times a year the city hosts an event bringing all the groups together. It’s a way to keep on top of what’s going on in the neighborhood and to keep it safe, clean and happy,” she said. “So PorchFest is not an official partner of (Neighborhoods 1st) but it came out of that.”
Porch festival events have been going on in other cities, such as New York City and Washington, D.C., for some years, Zielinski said, and the idea is catching on across the country.
The Hagerstown version this year will offer 14 bands playing over a period of four hours on different porches. There also will be food trucks and art exhibits.
“The houses on South Prospect Street are historic homes and so they have big porches. (Organizers) thought it would be a good way to gather people together to have a good time outside, to celebrate fall and showcase some beautiful homes on the street,” Zielinski said.
Bands will play at five or six houses, and solo musicians will perform inside and outside at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 101 S. Prospect St.
“The festival is contained to the 100 block of South Prospect,” Zielinski said, “but we spaced it out with ample time to stagger the bands so people can sit and enjoy the music. The bands should not be competing.”
There will be a wide range of acts, from a husband and wife team offering rich vocal harmonies and guitar inspired by Crowded House, Simon & Garfunkel, Shawn Colvin and Adele; to local hip-hop and R&B artists with music focused on “conscious thinking.” Others will include a violin and cello duo; country, blues and contemporary cover acts; ‘50s and ‘60s rock; big band and even some storytelling with music.
“It’s a huge variety,” Zielinski said. “Nothing super crazy or loud.”
A kids’ porch and yard will offer children’s activities to entertain the youngest attendees.
Zielinski, 47, and her husband Piotr, lived in Rockville, Md., for 14 years before moving to Hagerstown to purchase, restore and live in a four-level historic home.
“We wanted to live some place different and Hagerstown had everything we were looking for. I love City Park. You can see it from our house,” she said, “and we like the community here.”
A professional musician and classically-trained opera singer, Zielinski will branch out to perform with a group of friends playing as Dry Bridge Project. The band is named for the dry bridge at the corner of Antietam and South Prospect streets.
“It’s a pretty spot with a nice view of the city out there,” she said.
The band will play songs in the vein of Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, with Zielinski on vocals and guitar, and friends on additional guitars, bass and drums.
“I’m doing this because it’s with my friends so I’m trying out something new. I’m not usually a rock singer but I do like a little bit of everything,” Zielinski said. “Really it’s just for fun on my street in my community.”
PorchFest is being held in conjunction with City Park Fall Fest and Bester Community of Hope’s 4th annual South Side Community Block Party.
Fall Fest will celebrate the fusion of arts, entertainment, and history from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Jonathan Hager House will offer free tours, native dance and a petting zoo. City Park Train Hub will have free tours, Tommy 202 rides, barrel cart rides, music and inflatables. The Museum of Fine Arts, Washington County, will offer face painting, kids’ crafts and storytelling, and Mansion House Art Museum will feature painting on the porch, arts exhibits, kids’ activities and fall refreshments.
A shuttle will provide transportation from City Park Fall Fest to PorchFest between 2 and 4 p.m.
Bester Community of Hope’s South Side Community Block Party will take place from noon until 3 p.m. at the City Park band shell area. Country music duo The Swon Brothers, known from the TV show “The Voice,” and Washington, D.C.-based R&B/soul group The Chuck Brown Band will perform. There will be free paddleboat rides and laser tag as well as connections to local resources.