Porchfest returns after hiatus, hailed by Ithacans as ‘special’ and ‘perfect’
After three years without a music festival, Porchfest returned to the Fall Creek neighborhood on Sunday, filling the streets with performances from the local community scattered across nearly 150 porches. This year marks the first Porchfest since the pandemic has forced large gatherings to take a break.
Porchfest began in 2007 when Ithaca resident Lesley Greene was playing ukulele on her porch and fellow Ithacan Gretchen Hildreth came to listen. They decided to create a day where everyone could go out and play music on their porches for the neighborhood. After news of the new event spread, the first Porchfest had around 20 performers. The festival continues to grow every year, even outside of Ithaca.
“So many people have connections out of this city, or far out of here to other places and they brought the idea of Porchfest with them,” said Andy Adelewitz, co-organizer of Porchfest. “There are about 170 in the United States and Canada, and at least one in Australia that we have heard of.”
Porchfest differs in nature from other festivals in that people are encouraged to scatter throughout the neighborhood, with artists playing in over 20 streets over six time slots. Almost every block you descend, you experience something new: from musical performances of all different styles and genres, to storytelling, to dancing.
Although some may be tempted to plan their day, Adelewitz suggested wandering the streets and seeing what you come across.
“You can look at the map and the schedule and try to plan what you want to see, and you probably won’t get to half of them just because there’s so much going on,” Adelewitz said. “I learned a lot of great music in this city landing on Porchfest.”
Stone’s Throw Creek band member Jeff Lovell has played every Ithaca Porchfest, filling Yales Street with bluegrass and country. His band plays together “just for fun”, with their only big performance a year falling on Porchfest.
“We just love playing and we know people love it,” Lovell said. “We have a lot of people who come back every year to listen to us.”
The festival also has around 70-80 volunteers each year, some of them Cornell students volunteering through Cornell traditionlike Skylar Webb ’26.
“I love music. I played jazz [music] in high school,” Webb said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know the Ithaca community better by doing something I love to do: volunteering.”
Webb and other volunteers helped navigate traffic and festival attendees new and old.
Although Nancy Huffman has lived in Ithaca for 27 years, this year was her first Porchfest. His favorite performances of the day included bluegrass band Richie and Rosie and a father-son duo playing drums and bass.
“It’s so amazing to hear all the wonderful music Ithaca has to offer,” Huffman said. “I like the music of Ithaca.”
Others, like Professor Rod Getchell, microbiology and immunology, are Porchfest regulars. The diversity of performance keeps Getchell coming back year after year.
“I love it. It’s such a community thing,” Getchell said. “You just don’t see community events like this often — it’s special.”
Porchfest is also an important memory for Lauren Sill, a student at Ithaca College. She first went to Porchfest as a freshman in 2019 with her roommate, and the two returned again this year.
“It’s crazy how many talented people there are. Everywhere you look there is someone who is so good. The energy is so good,” Sill said. “Everyone seems so content and happy and the time of year is perfect. Everything is perfect there.”