Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Pete’s Pop-Up Porch Pickers plays at Porchfest, an Ithaca tradition that returned after years of hiatus due to COVID-19.

September 26, 2022

Porchfest Returns After Hiatus, Praised by Ithacans as ‘Special’ and ‘Perfect’

Print More

After three years without the music festival, Porchfest returned to the Fall Creek neighborhood Sunday, filling the streets with performances from the local community scattered across nearly 150 porches. This year marks the first Porchfest since the pandemic forced large gatherings to take a pause. 

Porchfest began in 2007 when Ithaca resident Lesley Greene was playing the ukulele on her porch and fellow Ithacan Gretchen Hildreth came by to listen. They decided to create a day where everyone could come out and play music on their porches for the neighborhood. After news spread of the new event, the first Porchfest had around 20 performers. The festival continues to grow each year — even outside of Ithaca.

“So many people have connections outside this town, or away from here to other places and they have brought the Porchfest idea with them,” said Porchfest Co-Organizer Andy Adelewitz. “There are about 170 of them around the US and Canada, and at least one in Australia that we’ve heard about.”

Attendees enjoyed music from The X’Plozionz!!! at Porchfest. (Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor)

Porchfest differs in nature from other festivals in that people are encouraged to disperse throughout the neighborhood, with performers playing across more than 20 streets over six time slots. Almost every block you go down, you get to experience something new: From musical performances of all different styles and genres, to storytelling, to dancing.

Though some might be tempted to plan out their day, Adelewitz suggested wandering the streets and seeing what you stumble across.

“You can look at the map and schedule and try to plan what you want to see, and you probably won’t make it to half of them just because there is so much going on,” Adelewitz said. “I have learned about a lot of great music in this town from just landing across it on Porchfest.”

Jeff Lovell, member of the band Stone’s Throw Creek, has played in every Ithaca Porchfest, filling Yales St. with bluegrass and country. His band plays together “just for fun,” with their one big performance a year falling on Porchfest.

“We just like to play, and we know the people enjoy it,” Lovell said. “We have a lot of people that keep on returning every single year to listen to us.”

Attendees square dance to music played by Pete’s Pop-Up Porch Pickers at Porchfest. (Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor)

The festival also has roughly 70 to 80 volunteers each year, with some being Cornell students volunteering through Cornell Tradition, like Skylar Webb ’26.

“I like music. I played Jazz [music] in high school,” Webb said. “I thought it would be a nice opportunity to get to know the Ithaca community a bit better by doing something I like to do: Volunteering.”

Webb and other volunteers helped navigate traffic and festival attendees, both new and old.

Even though Nancy Huffman has lived in Ithaca for 27 years, this year was her first Porchfest. Her favorite performances of the day included the bluegrass band Richie and Rosie and a father-son duo playing the drums and bass.

“It’s so amazing to hear all the wonderful music that Ithaca has to offer,” Huffman said. “I love Ithaca music.”

Others, like Prof. Rod Getchell, microbiology and immunology, are Porchfest regulars. The diversity of performances keeps Getchell coming back year after year.

”I love it. It’s just such a community thing,” Getchell said. “You just don’t see community events like this often — this is special.”

Porchfest is also a core memory for Ithaca College student Lauren Sill. She first went to Porchfest as a freshman in 2019 with her roommate, and the two of them returned again this year. 

“It’s crazy how many people are so talented here. Everywhere you look there’s somebody that’s so good. The energy is so good,” Sill said. “Everybody just seems so content and happy and the time of year is perfect. Everything about it is perfect.”