Porch Fest is coming back to Long Beach

City receives grant for second multi-site event


Long Beach boasts any number of arts fairs and concerts throughout the year. Arts in the Plaza draws hundreds who peruse goods from local shops, while concerts bring a variety of vibes on the beach and in Kennedy Plaza.

Last year, there was a new addition to the arts scene that proved quite popular: Porch Fest.

At the City Council meeting on Jan. 16, a $5,000 grant was announced for this year’s edition of the multi-site musical celebration. The grant is from the Huntington Arts Council 2024 Statewide Community Regrant Program.

“We started this last year, and it was a successful event,” City Manager Dan Creighton said of Porch Fest. “These funds will be used to pay musicians and other incidentals, such as T-shirts.”

The first Porch Fest, an afternoon of live music performed on porches, in driveways and on front lawns, took place last May 20. It was created as a way for residents to enjoy live music outdoors while supporting the arts and interacting with their neighbors.

The event was produced by the Long Beach Arts Council, with support from the city government, the Kiwanis Club, and Artists in Partnership.

“I unfortunately had to work that day,” City Council President Brendan Finn admitted, “but my wife told me all about it, and said it was a great time. People walk around and catch some music. I couldn’t attend it, but I wish I did.”

Katie Mitchell, who joined the arts council in 2022, noticed that the group organized a lot of visual art projects and public art displays, but she was interested in adding a musical component.

“Porch fests are actually something that has been gaining a lot of popularity around the country,” Mitchell previously told the Herald. “In our community, especially, we have a really lovely, thriving live music community with a ton of musicians. It’s a really tight-knit community with many musician groups in town, and just a lot of talent.”

Mitchell said that porch fests became even more popular during the pandemic, giving people a chance to enjoy live music outside, instead of being crowded into bars and restaurants. And outdoor shows, she added, attract a wider spectrum of music lovers.

The arts council distributed applications to homeowners last year to get an idea of how many would be interested in and available to host performers. The promotion sparked a great deal of interest, and more than two dozen homeowners submitted applications. Since it was the council’s first try at producing such an event, however, members decided to keep it small, and chose homes that were centralized in one area.

The bands all played in a radius of a few blocks, from West Fulton Street to West Penn Street, east of Washington Boulevard, in the Westholme area. Performances rotated from 2 to 5 p.m., and took place at 565 Washington Blvd., 465 W. Fulton St., 160 W. Olive St., 128 W. Penn St. and 133 W. Beech St. The Long Beach Historical Society, at 226 W. Penn, also hosted some of the musicians, with three groups playing on the porch outside the front door.

A date has not yet been selected for this year’s events, and homeowner applications have not been sent out.