The West Plaza neighborhood turned into an outdoor concert venue on Saturday as more than 100 bands set up on porches in the 25-block area.
The second annual PorchFestKC, a free, family-friendly music celebration, was held from noon to 5 p.m. Scattered showers didn’t deter the crowds, who took shelter under leafy trees or set up beach umbrellas over their lawn chairs.
The first PorchFest was in Ithaca, N.Y., eight years ago when musicians gathered on porches to showcase their talents, according to PorchFestKC officials. Now about 30 PorchFests convene annually across the country. In 2014, Kathryn Golden — who had relocated from San Francisco to the West Plaza — decided to bring the event to her new neighborhood.
Golden said PorchFest is unusual in that it is free (bands work for tips) and residents allow their porches to be used as stages. Music is acoustic or nearly acoustic, she said, so a band’s sound might travel only a few houses.
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“I never know what to expect when you aren’t selling tickets, but I am happy with the turnout,” Golden said Saturday afternoon.
This year the festival was an hour longer and had more bands.
The Wilcox family of Lee’s Summit came to hear The Fritz Hutchison Band, then headed down Wyoming Street to take in Mount Veritas. Emily Wilcox said the event introduced her children — son Vasile, 15, and daughter Yalei, 12 — to several types of live music and mostly original songs in a short period of time.
Sara Gaggens didn’t have to travel far. She simply stepped onto her porch Saturday to enjoy a band across the street.
“It gives the young people in the neighborhood a chance to perform,” said Gaggens, who has lived in the area for 30 years. “I’m getting my porch redone, but next year I’ll put out more chairs so people can come up and sit and listen.”
Sara Morgan and her band played on the same Wyoming Street porch as they did during PorchFest 2014, and they were heartened to see fans filling the lawn and spilling onto the street and even across the street.
Another band drew a small crowd of intense listeners. One savored a pipe, another sipped on a miniature bottle of liquor.
But it wasn’t all about the music.
West Plaza resident Mike Myers played his guitar during the 2014 PorchFest, but this year he set up and sold some of his Found and Finished pieces, artworks that he finds on the street or in trash bins and “finishes.”
Food trucks selling everything from meat pies to pizza to frozen treats also fueled the music lovers.