Quincy Main Street’s 2021 Quincy PorchFest and Sketch Crawl brought live music, art and hundreds of people to historic downtown Quincy this past weekend.
Quincy Main Street’s executive director Penny O’Connell said the event went off without a hitch.
O’Connell also said the music lineup and crowds were more diverse this year than they have been in previous years.
The musician diversity, O’Connell said, was thanks to Walter Kelleher, a Quincy Main Street board member who had taken on the task of arranging the musicians.
“Our goal this year was to find something for everybody,” O’Connell said – a goal that obviously paid off, as O’Connell adds that the crowd was “easily” five times larger than it has been in the past.
This was the eighth year for the family-friendly music festival.
The genres of music covered a wide range from Americana and folk, jazz and blues, gospel and classic rock, big band, zydeco and more.
New this year was a main stage located in the Gerald A. Gay Park at the corner of North Adams and West Franklin Streets.
This was also the first year the event had food trucks.
“All of the food trucks sold out,” O’Connell said.
The event kicked-off Friday evening with performances by the Thursday Night Music Club, and Billy Rigsby Band on the main stage.
O’Connell said about 250 attended the concert on Friday night.
The main stage also featured local new age gospel group Kendrick Evans & Renew’d, and soul blues singer Johnny Rawls.
There were 25 live acts performed on porches in and around downtown on Saturday afternoon, which O’Connell said is almost twice as many as ever before.
The annual event was originally scheduled for March but was postponed due to COVID-19.
Participants were encouraged to follow Center for Disease Control COVID-19 recommendations for safe distancing.
The Gadsden Arts Center, which also participated in PorchFest and was one of the sponsors, followed Center for Disease Control COVID-19 suggestions by only allowing a few people in at a time.
The arts center provided free admission for those who wanted to tour the exhibits.
Children and adults alike, seemed to enjoy the many activities offered by the arts center’s ArtZone, including button making, painting, jewelry making and origami stations.
Children were also given specially curated art kits to take home and use later.
Gadsden Arts Center instructor Donna Lowman said she was surprised by the amount of people that turned out.
“God blessed us with this beautiful day, so everybody’s out,” Lowman said.
Dawn McMillan – Quincy Main Street board member, and one of the event’s organizers – said people were raving about this year’s PorchFest.
She said the only complaint she heard was that it was too hot.
However, Quincy Main Street even had a solution to that problem, by providing free air-conditioned trolly rides to help people navigate through downtown Quincy, and lessen any inconvenience caused by the rising temperatures.
Some turned down the trolly rides, and opted to stroll the streets, while sight-seeing instead.
McMillan said she rode the trolly at least five times.
“Every time I got on, I saw a lot of families with children on there,” said McMillan.
McMillan said she and the other organizers were afraid that the performances at the main stage would take away from the porches, but she said every one of the porches were filled with people sitting on the lawns or standing on the sidewalks.
“The sun kept the audience down at the main stage, and that’s really unfortunate, because there were some top-tier performers,” McMillan said.
Both O’Connell and McMillan said they have been taking notes and making plans for next year’s PorchFest.
O’Connell said Quincy Main Street partnered with the City of Quincy, Quincy Community Redevelopment Agency and a host of other sponsors to put on this year’s event.
Erin Hill – email@example.com
Photos by Erin Hill