Although appealing, Porchfest decides against HNE

By Joe Jarosz
Northeast News
March 9, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The porches of the Valentine Neighborhood are going to get a whole lot more musical next fall.

PorchFestKC organizer Kathryn Golden announced its new location last week and its new date, Oct. 8, 2016, after its previous host, the West Plaza Neighborhood, declined to host them for a third year. Once word got out that West Plaza vetoed PorchFestKC, Golden was inundated with neighborhoods from around the city and surrounding towns, lobbying to bring music to their porches. Two of those neighborhoods included the Historic Northeast’s Pendleton Heights and Scrattit Renaissance Neighborhood.

And, for a time, there was a strong possibility that the music was going to be heard from the porches of the Northeast. Golden said she spent time in both Pendleton Heights and Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhoods, scouting possible locations and reviewing spaces for bands and cars.

“I wasn’t very familiar with the Northeast ahead of this, having not lived here for 20 years, so I dedicated some time zig-zagging around, looking at my map a million times, etc,” Golden said.

She shared her findings and concerns with neighborhood associations. She thought Scarritt had two areas that were workable. Alone, neither was robust enough and together, they were not walkable as a single unit. Pendleton, she added, faced the same challenges that West Plaza did with space; narrow streets, small yards, tough parking, and small porches.

Those disadvantages ultimately led to organizers choosing the Valentine Neighborhood. Tasked with the difficult decision of selecting the right neighborhood, Valentine ultimately had all of the elements she was looking for.

“Their space was more of a square block of homes, which I feel is better for walkability of an event like this,” Golden said. “People can walk in any direction and find more music. There also is parking in all directions, even if street parking. Most homes have drives and garages, so their own cars will be off-street. Streets are wide. Porches are consistently large. Yards are bigger than in the West Plaza, hopefully keeping people out of the street.”

At this year’s event, attendees can expect a very similar experience to prior years, with the goal being to address some of the event’s “not-perfect things,” like say, more food trucks.

“I under-estimated the number needed, again, and most ran out of food in the first 2 hours,” Golden said. “Hopefully the parking and traffic jam situations from last year will be better. I’m hoping that with larger yards, crowds from porches will gather more on the grass than in the traffic ways. And I’m hoping it won’t rain this year.”

With already one move under its belt, Golden has no idea what the future holds for Porchfest. Even though a Northeast neighborhood didn’t get selected this year, it doesn’t mean it will never host the music festival. Until that, possible, day comes, Golden said she very much appreciated the enthusiasm from the Northeast about taking on the project.

“I was humbled by the volume of outreach it has garnered and hope that people do understand that I did look seriously at every area that reached out to me, that was in the city,” Golden said. “I didn’t seriously consider non-Kansas City communities, but I did give legitimate attention to all neighborhoods in the city that came to me with interest. I hope the residents of the Northeast will consider marking their calendars for the October 8th event.”

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