OSWEGO – Oswego PorchFest celebrated its five-year anniversary yesterday, Sunday, Sept. 22, in the Historic Westside Neighborhoods of Franklin Square and Montcalm Park.
The free music event featured dozens of acts from around the Oswego and CNY area, ranging from traditional Swiss music to classic rock. Every few steps walked down the sidewalks around Franklin Square and Montcalm Park was met immediately with a new tune and style.
“A lot of the people that play, we see them all year long at venues where we pay to see them or the restaurants pay to have them, so I think, in a way for the performers, it’s a way to give back to the community for supporting them all year long,” PorchFest founder Gerri Millar said.
The unique part of this music festival is the venue. Homeowners volunteered their front porches and lawns for acts to perform and spectators to watch.
“It’s a great way to showcase our beautiful historic homes, a lot of our neighborhoods, and it makes for a fun Sunday afternoon,” Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said. “It’s a special event for Oswego because it is such a unique event.”
This annual festival began in 2013 when Millar and her husband were camping in Ithaca, New York, where they saw a porch festival for the first time. She immediately thought it was a neat idea and wanted to do it in Oswego. She sat on the idea for a year until she brought it up to her neighbors in the Oswego Renaissance Association.
She formed a committee of people to organize the event, each providing a different skill and task.
“2015 was our first one and at that time, we had, I think, maybe had 20 acts and it was just the immediate area,” Millar said. “Now, we have over 70 [acts].”
Millar said her favorite part of the festival is watching the attendees enjoying the music.
Karen Shull, a committee member, began volunteering her porch in 2016 and was invited to join the committee after expressing enthusiasm for the event.
“It’s good for our neighborhood and I love music. The artists are always different and interesting,” Shull said.
This year, she hosted Bob Buckley at 2 p.m. and Two Rare Roses at 4 p.m. Shull also photographs the acts around the neighborhood.
“We love how our community comes together to support this amazing music festival,” Shull said.
In April, the committee will begin the process of planning next year’s event.