Carmel PorchFest Rocks the House

PorchFest returns with a lineup of front-stoop concerts.
Catch the Fuzzy Bunny Fish Fry Show, a family-friendly cover band with its own theme song.

In its second year, Hamilton County’s hippest block party, PorchFest, is amping things up with longer sets and a deeper roster of musical talent. Here’s how to join the roving audience.

1. The name says it all: At this quirky neighborhood music festival, 20 front porches double as stages to showcase local acoustic soloists, brassy jazz ensembles, and other performers. Ithaca, New York, started the PorchFest trend in 2007, and Carmel’s version on Arts & Design District side streets is one of more than 30 similar festivals nationwide.

2. There’s no rain date, so check PorchFest’s social media accounts if the weather looks questionable.

3. All 20 porches are sandwiched between Rangeline Road and the Monon Trail, from 1st Street up to 6th Street. They’re “the undiscovered streets of the Arts & Design District,” says event co-founder and chairperson Sue Finkam—but not for long. Organizers expect about 5,000 people to swarm the area.

4. The schedule features about 40 solo musicians and bands—in general, one gig per block per time slot. Sets run 45 minutes to an hour.

5. Planning your porch-hopping schedule can be a challenge. Look for the free lanyards emblazoned with the district map and performance lineup at three welcome tents. “You can set your own pace,” Finkam says. “You can watch one porch all afternoon, or you can wander from porch to porch.” Need a sneak peek before you decide? Check the PorchFest website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed for video clips of bands’ demo submissions.

6. Good news: The streets will be closed to vehicle traffic, so you can let the kids roam free. Bad news: parking. Try the garages at City Center and the Indiana Design Center.

7. Make like a Symphony on the Prairie–goer and bring lawn chairs, a cooler, and a wagonload of refreshments. You won’t find many food vendors (PorchFest limits the number to maintain the neighborhood atmosphere), but you might get lucky and pick a porch where the homeowners serve snacks.   

8. PorchFest etiquette mirrors the “leave no trace” mentality of  hiking. Don’t litter or trample the flowerbeds.

9. Want some volume on your own veranda? Start thinking about 2016. If your porch can accommodate one performer, and you can tolerate people on your lawn, all you have to do is provide electricity. Bonus points for decorating.

Carmel PorchFest, September 13, 1–5 p.m., Free

This article appeared in the September 2015 Issue.