Last summer, on the second Saturday in June, Griffith Avenue was packed with people, as cars tried to cautiously make their way down the street. This year, in anticipation of the return of PorchFest OBKY, Griffith Avenue will be closed from Robin Road to Frederica Street beginning at noon on Saturday, June 8 and lasting until 11 p.m.
In an attempt to continue to make the event bigger and better, PorchFest founders Andy Brasher and Tamarra Miller said the road closure is not the only improvement being made this year. Free public parking will be available at Owensboro High School by using the Frederica entrance or along side streets. First Presbyterian Church will also be offering parking in their lot for a donation to the church’s youth group.
In addition to offering parking options, the number of food trucks has doubled this year, and will now be more centrally located.
This year’s 10 featured food trucks will include Fresh by Gene’s, Curbside Kitchenette, Kona Ice, Tri-R-Tips Hawaiian style BBQ, The Spot Coffee, Taqueria, Slick Back BBQ, J’s Good Grub, Maggie’s Cupcake Truck and A Tasty Bite of Europe. The food trucks will no longer be located near the Owensboro Public Schools Griffith Avenue lot, but will now be on Griffith Avenue between Lexington Avenue and Griffith Place.
With Independence Bank as the title sponsor of the event this year, the Reid family will be hosting two separate porches.
A special stage will also be set up at the home of Tim and Kara Allen, in close proximity to the food trucks. The Wendell Foster stage, dedicated to the PorchFest 2019 designated nonprofit, will not only offer three bands throughout the day but lemonade and other options as well.
As the event’s charitable beneficiary, Wendell Foster will offer items for donation, and receive the funds from all PorchFest merchandise sold Saturday evening.
“All merchandise including T-shirts, cups, stickers and limited edition event posters — 100 percent of those proceeds go back to Wendell Foster,” Miller said. “We would like to come up with an application process for other nonprofits for the future.”
The PorchFest route has also been extended and the number of concert porches nearly doubled from eight last year to 15 this year. With three musical talents being featured on each porch, that creates 45 different options for passersby.
Miller said, with the popularity of the event, there were over 65 band submissions. This required Miller and Brasher to spend an entire evening listening to each band’s links and demos until they were able to choose the ones that were the best fit for PorchFest.
“We reached out and naturally got down to 45, which is what we needed,” Miller said.
According to the organizers, porch hosts were selected by the size of band they could accommodate and the size of their yard for listeners.
“Everyone that did it [hosted a porch] last year is doing it again this year,” Miller said. “And this year we added seven more.”
Lee Hall was one of last year’s hosts, and understands the necessary accommodations well, as she hosted the V-Bombs, as well as the headlining Andy Brasher Band.
“I think I have the advantage because I sit on a corner and I have that side yard,” Hall said. “My lawn was overflowing — I don’t think I knew what I was getting into. I set up the porch Friday night and met with Tamarra and Andy and said, ‘I think you’re going to end up having more people than you think.’ I think everyone that came saw what was going on and that it was so much fun. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”
An interior designer by trade, Hall said, when she bought her home five years ago, she did so to be able to share it with others. She said PorchFest has given her, and her neighbors, that opportunity.
“Since last year was its maiden voyage, we’re excited to see what happens this year — everyone in the neighborhood is excited,” Hall said. “I think most people like it too because it’s a neighborhood setting, you can set out blankets or chairs and choose who you want to listen to.”
Hall said, even with the large number of people in her yard at one time, everyone was respectful of her property, taking their mess with them and leaving things as they found them.
“I think that’s what’s going to keep our neighbors doing it year after year,” she said.
Rob and Mitsa Greene also hosted a porch last year, including a back patio renovation by J&R Construction. Greene said he used the event as an opportunity to welcome old and new friends to his home.
“It was a great way for us to have old friends over, as well as meet a lot of new people in our immediate neighborhood — and in the community,” Greene said. “We had a lot of traffic in the back and front last year. We had some people come just to look at our back porch addition. At one time, there were over 100 people in our back porch area.”
Greene said he too was impressed with the courtesy shown by others and the success of the event for its first year.
“Last year, for it being the first year, we were overwhelmed — it was awesome,” Greene said. “It was better than I think anyone involved could have imagined. The weather cleared up and the turnout was great.”
Another noticeable difference this year, will be small product giveaways at the various porches, in order to help the sponsoring businesses add value to their sponsorship.
For those who are wanting to start their music experience early, Bar Louie will be hosting a pre-party Friday night June 7 from 8 p.m. until midnight, featuring Nashville-based Haley Martin and North Carolina’s Sweet T.
On Saturday night, the Andy Brasher Band will headline PorchFest at 9 p.m. and, for those wanting to continue the laid back music experience, an official after party and open mic “Porch Jam” will be held at Taylor’s Bar & Grill to allow some of the out of town artists to mingle with the locals.
“They’ve started a good thing here and I hope it keeps going,” Hall said. “It takes a village to make this event work…it’s just a very neat event and I’m so glad Owensboro has it.”