Boston Globe: PorchFest Quincy expands to four neighborhoods

By Alejandro Serrano GLOBE CORRESPONDENT  JUNE 15, 2017
Walter Hubley and Ian Cain were shooting ideas back and forth two years ago, trying to come up with ways to stimulate more community engagement.

The two reminisced about the sense of community they felt growing up in Quincy.

Then it occurred to them: Who doesn’t like music? Cain, now a city councilor in Quincy, went to Somerville’s 2013 PorchFest, in which musicians performed on porches and in front yards, and figured a similar event in Quincy could help spark the engagement he and Hubley longed for.

“The energy that was in Somerville that day was something I had not felt in my community in a while,” said Cain.

The duo launched the first PorchFest Quincy last year, and they liked what they saw. Now they are adding last-minute touches to the free festival’s second edition — with more music and food — scheduled for Saturday, June 24, from 1 to 8 p.m. across four neighborhoods.

“Music is one of those things that connects people who may not have a lot in common. Everyone loves music,” said Hubley, president of the Wollaston Hill Neighborhood Association and headmaster at Woodward School.

Taking the idea from Hubley’s dining room table — where they said it originated — to the city’s porches and front yards was no walk in the park. First, they set a small goal: Find 18 or so porches to host live music. They started planning for the event to take place at Wollaston Hill, but not long after they started planning and word started spreading they decided to include the Squantum and Beechwood Knoll areas, to meet the demand.
They quickly learned the biggest challenge wasn’t finding porches or musicians, but organizing 70 acts onto 43 impromptu stages without letting one act’s sound bleed into another’s — and not scheduling acts so far apart as to discourage attendees from walking between them.

Hubley said they solved the puzzle and thousands of people of all ages attended, exceeding their initial expectations.

This year, they are almost done solving a larger puzzle. They added Merrymount to the three neighborhoods included last year, and they are scheduling about 110 acts on approximately 60 stages and trying to schedule six food trucks.

Volunteers will help behind the scenes, with everything from graphics and scheduling to being on the scene and ensuring the acts have what they need, when they need it.

Donations and T-shirt sales help to promote the event.

Hubley said PorchFest Quincy has probably drawn “the most enthusiastic response” he’s seen in his city. Hearing people preparing for this year’s event has made their community engagement mission worth it all, Cain said. “From our perspective,” he said, it’s “very much a success.”

PorchFest Quincy is 1 to 8 p.m. in throughout the Wollaston Hill, Beechwood Knoll/Beach Street, Squantum, and Merrymount neighborhoods.