Music festival to be held on front porches of Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhood, historic Springfield
JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville will soon be home to one of the most popular events sweeping the country. Porchfest, a music festival held on front porches, will take place November 8, 2014, in Jacksonville’s oldest neighborhood, historic Springfield.
“Porchfest isn’t simply a music festival,” said organizer Elizabeth Augustus. “It’s a celebration of front-porch living and all that the lifestyle embodies.”
The family-friendly free event will feature musicians from a wide variety of genres. Organizers are aiming for 20 performers to play on 20 porches throughout the historic district. Attendees will stroll from porch to porch and “camp out” on front lawns as they enjoy live, local talent.
“In their heyday, front porches were where the community gathered—they were the epicenter of neighborhood life,” said Christina Parrish, an event organizer and Springfield resident and business owner. “People would sit on the front porch instead of the backyard because they could see friends coming and going and say hello to their neighbors. The bonds of community were formed through that interaction.”
Organizers are seeking corporate sponsors and are busy lining up bands. In addition to heightened brand awareness, sponsors will associate their companies with the front porch lifestyle—friendly neighbors who know one another, whose kids play and grow up together, and who support each other in both good and bad times.
Front-porch nostalgia fuels a movement
Porchfests started in Ithaca, N.Y., and have spread from Florida to California. They are typically held in historic urban neighborhoods where front porches are common. The movement is part of the resurgence of traditionally styled neighborhoods, which are pedestrian friendly, feature a mix of commercial and residential buildings, and have closely situated houses with prominent front porches and back alleys for parking. A number of new neighborhoods—such as Seaside, Fla., Haile Plantation in Gainesville, Fla., I’On in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and Disney’s Celebration, outside Orlando—were modeled after historic neighborhoods like Springfield.
“Americans are tired of suburban sprawl and the lifestyle it’s created,” Augustus said. “They want to return to a time where they knew their neighbors and were surrounded by a true community.”
In addition to numerous beautiful front porches, Springfield has the strong community bonds and interaction that many Americans long for today. “Springfield provides a quintessential American small-town life, ironically situated next to downtown Jacksonville,” Parrish said.
Springfield Preservation and Revitalization (SPAR), a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated since 1974 to improving the quality of life in the Springfield historic district, will act as the sponsoring non-profit for the festival. Proceeds will benefit arts programming in the neighborhood.
Sponsors and volunteers should contact Elizabeth Augustus. Interested bands should contact Christina Parrish. For updates on the festival, like its Facebook page at facebook.com/jacksonvilleporchfest.