Porchfest to feature music after Fitchburg cleanup
Updated: 05/10/2016 06:33:55 AM EDT
By Anna Burgess
FITCHBURG -- This Saturday, after the annual North of Main cleanup, the neighborhood will host the first Fitchburg Porchfest, a series of outdoor performances by local bands available to anyone and everyone.
Organized by NewVue Communities and ReImagine North of Main, Porchfest will feature 15 musicians and entertainers performing at 12 locations, including the Fitchburg Art Museum, the Sundial Community Garden, and, of course, on neighborhood porches.
Porchfest was born several years ago in Ithaca, N.Y., and it has become a popular spring and summer activity in larger Massachusetts cities, including Somerville and Newton.
This past winter, at a leadership conference in Kentucky, Meredith Geraghty, director of community organizing for NewVue Communities, decided to adapt the idea to a post-cleanup celebration.
"It's a celebration of the work people can do and also the possibility of what this neighborhood can be," Geraghty said.
They want to focus on building community, said Tom Skwierawski, project coordinator for ReImagine North of Main.
"It's not like a traditional music festival," he said. "It's just people hanging out, sharing music, sharing art and having a good time."
Besides Skwierawski and Geraghty, Porchfest organizers are Eric Rodriguez from the United Neighbors of Fitchburg, Planning Board member Andy Van Hazinga, Maria Cintron-Aponte from Crossroads Community Church, Green Street Park event organizer Silas Dobson, Fitchburg State University professor David White, and Prichard Street Gardens member Karla Martinez.
Geraghty said they've found a variety of bands, "everything from a Christian hip-hop group to acoustic guitar to choir hymns."
"The schedule is three hours, and the idea is, you can walk around and stay for 20 minutes of a performance or stay for all of it," she said. "The theme is to move with the music from porch to porch, so it kind of flows."
The Fitchburg Porchfest will begin Saturday at 3 p.m., after the neighborhood cleanup, with a block party at Marshall and High streets featuring several local amateur musicians.
At 4 p.m., the crowd will shift to Elm Street for a family-friendly hour, featuring face-painting, campfire storytelling, equipment demonstrations from ghost-hunters TV show "Haunted in New England," and the Elm Street Church band.
The final hour of the celebration will take place on Prichard Street, and will feature professional local musicians, including Eddy Troxler, Jessica Potts, and Paul and Paula Luria.
Skwierawski said Fitchburg residents have been "super-supportive."
"A lot of what we're trying to do is to get activities happening in the downtown neighborhood, get people out and about," he said. "I think there's not enough programming like that, but people are really excited (about this), which shows there's a latent interest."
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