This past Sunday a small slice of Americana overtook several neighborhoods in downtown Napa as “Porchfest” was held for the second consecutive year. Sponsored by Napa County Landmarks and DoNapa.com, this 3-hour event featured approximately 80 bands/musical acts performing on over 50 porches at homes and inns throughout the city of Napa.
Being that I have lived on the west coast my entire life, I was unaware that Porchfests are fairly common in other parts of the country. It turns out that Napa has an unusually high number of front porches for a California city, and so it was suggested that this event could work well here. Judging from the several thousand who turned out on Sunday, organizers were right.
Laurie and I heeded the directive to “leave your car at home” and pedaled our way downtown for the 2pm start. We had printed off a map denoting all the locations and performers; a website and Facebook page instructed us where to go, who was playing, and what type of music was being played. The menu was eclectic; everything from rock, blues, folk and jazz to Celtic tunes, bluegrass, accordions and rap. Yes, Rap even found its way to downtown Napa. (And yes, the performer dutifully grabbed at his crotch throughout his entire set. Not that I watched much of it. But he did.)
With a budget of less than $800, event organizers (and over 50 volunteers) put on a great event. All the entertainment was free, folks donated their houses and porches for the music, and a few venues even offered complimentary lemonade, cookies and water. Although it was billed as an alcohol-free event (aside: a wine-free event in Napa is sort of like going to a baseball game without bats), I noted a good number of folks sipping adult beverages they had brought with them, and that appeared to be fine so long as it was kept in the street and off of peoples’ property. Other than a few streets that were occasionally impassable to motorists, there were no incidents reported and the event went off without a hitch.
The organizers intentionally did not publicize this event outside of the Napa Valley so as to not draw too much attention (i.e. crowds) from the greater bay area, which would have taxed the local infrastructure, created congestion, exacerbated restroom issues, and the like. However, word to the wise: the third annual Porchfest is scheduled for the last Sunday in July again next year. Just don’t tell anyone I told you.
I snapped a bunch of photos, and some of them actually came out. Have a look (they will expand if you click on them.)