Town festival brings music, home decoration, and fun to Bristol

Bristol Porchfest took place on Sunday, September 18th

People gathered to enjoy one of the first porch performances.

High Street with its red, white and blue stripe down the middle was transformed into a venue for a town festival on Sunday, September 18th. This festival, known as the Bristol Porchfest, had nine decorated porches with a total of 18 different bands that played. People were walking from house to house to get a taste of all the different genres of music such as rock, folk, bluegrass and more. Others set up lawn chairs and camped out in front of one front porch to take in their favorite performer. Locals and people from away come to enjoy the music for free. The shuttle service offers free transportation to this event as well.
The festival began in 2018 when a group of volunteers, the core committee, wanted to start the tradition of PorchFest. Nancy Kellner, who is one of the cofounders for the event, talked about difficulties to get people involved the first year. She specifically spoke about how time consuming recruiting the porch owners was as well as the time spent strategically deciding which performers to bring in. Now that it is their fourth year planning the event Kellner and the rest of the core committee have found that they are getting returning porch owners, and now that the community has seen the festival in action, if asked about the use of a High Street porch most are happy to volunteer theirs. The committee also had some returning musicians from the previous years such as Trinity, Los Duderinos and Catnip Junkies. Kellner felt strongly that music has a powerful effect on people.
“While I am not a musician, I believe music, as a universal language, is very powerful,” said PorchFest co-founder Nancy Kellner. “Not only does it affect one’s mood individually but it brings people together. Music is a non-denominational way to celebrate and build community which is very important to me.”
All of the recruiting and advertising has been very successful since Kellner estimated the attendance at PorchFest this year was over 5,000 people. Kellner’s favorite part of the whole event was the people’s reaction.
“I love seeing smiling neighbors chatting it up and people of all ages dancing in the streets,” said Kellner.
The last front porch, at the end of High street, that you come to holds the largest crowd of listeners gathered to hear the bands Trinity and Catnip Junkies. Roger Williams University Professor of Biology Paul Webb and his wife bought this house about three years ago and learned that the previous owners had the porch as a venue in the year 2018. Webb and his wife loved the event therefore decided to have their porch continue to be part of it. This is now their second year in the tradition.
“My favorite part is seeing everyone out, seeing the whole town and running into people, seeing a lot of friends from Bristol,” Webb explained.
After hours of dancing in the street to the bands on the porches everyone travels as a group over to the PorchFest after party, at Unity Park, for more music, food and drinks. PorchFest is an event to bring everyone together to enjoy the music, it is a tradition that seems to be very unique to this town.