Oakhurst Porchfest: Everything You Need to Know
What is this?
The Oakhurst Porchfest is a grassroots community music spectacle in Decatur, Georgia, where front porches become stages, yards become venues, and radical generosity and good will rule the day.
How does it work?
Porchfest is much more an afternoon of coordinated yard performances than it is a conventional festival. There's no real boss, no specific enclosed or protected area, and everything you see, eat, or experience exists only because someone decided to step up and make it happen. All of our day-of operations and oversight gets delegated to our hundreds of volunteering neighbors and thousands of guests, making every Block Captain, porch host, performer, vendor and attendee a de facto co-creator and real-time manager of the event. The organizing committee, such that it is, exists only to manage basic front-end logistics, coordinate performances, and promote the day.
For attendees, all normal rules of law and order apply and, just like any other day, everyone remains responsible for their own behavior and welfare when moving from yard to yard. Wander around, keep yourself safe, and watch out for others. Pretty simple.
These video look-backs provide a great sense of Porchfest 2015, 2016 and 2017.
When's it happening?
Everything goes down Saturday, October 9, 2021 from Noon to 7pm, and will likely include a day's end throwdown at the center of the neighborhood.
Where does it take place?
Oakhurst is in the southwest corner of Decatur, sandwiched between Agnes Scott College and the College Heights neighborhood to the east and Kirkwood to the west. Our event is spread across the entire neighborhood, filling roughly one square mile. Our 2021 event area is shown here.
What's new for 2021?
Besides a global pandemic in retreat? Look for news on how this year's Porchfest will unfold as we get closer to the event. Announcements get made on our Facebook page so follow there.
I want to play or host a band.
Why can’t I choose my time to host or perform?
We’ve simply grown too big. Porchfest is an all-volunteer operation. Scheduling more than 200 performances across the neighborhood in balanced time slots, ensuring they don’t conflict with other performers nearby, and then connecting each performer with their respective host requires weeks of logistical calisthenics. We’ve learned the hard way that when registrations get bogged down in special requests it becomes exponentially more difficult.
Instead, we ask that all participants — hosts and performers alike — simply clear their calendars for the duration and submit themselves to the benevolent forces of the greater good.
Can hosts choose their own band?
Yes, but this must be made clear during registration. Hosts must indicate the band they've made arrangements with; their band must indicate the house where they've arranged to play. Both host and band must register independently so we can formalize the match and assign a performance time.
Why just one, one-hour performance per porch?
There are certainly logistical benefits but, for the most part, it's because Porchfest is as much a community-building endeavor as it is a celebration of music so getting people out and about is key. When people camp out all day at any one address it works against the underlying point of the event. We aim to be a shifting, ever-evolving carnival of interactions and experiences. Not a collection of distinct, day-long yard parties. #roamthehood
Do the musicians get paid?
No one does. Ours is an experiment in radical generosity and good will — predicated solely on the act of giving — which applies equally to everyone involved. Organizers, performers, porch hosts, and others all participate as volunteers and all give freely of their time, talents, resources, and hospitality as a gift to the neighborhood and to each other. This year alone will be made possible by the voluntary contributions of almost a thousand people.
We hold no expectations for participation and feel only appreciation for those who join us in the spirit of our ambitions.
That said, though, we do generate one heckuva crowd and encourage anyone to make use of it. Musicians are free to put out a tip jar or sell their music and merch, artists and crafters set up yard-shops, and enterprising neighbors and do-good nonprofits help make refreshments available. If it's legal, have at it.
The 2021 Porchfest is expected to feature roughly 200 individual acts spread across an equal number of porches.
Who should come?
Everyone! Oakhurst Porchfest is family-friendly and open to all, with all kinds of music to suit all kinds of tastes.
Do I need a ticket?
No ticket required. The event is open to all and totally free.
Is there a map or some kind of schedule?
Yes. In a variety of formats — printed, online, or downloadable print-at-home — which will all be available at the appropriate time here.
Is Porchfest accessible for those with disabilities?
Absolutely. We prioritize walking and rolling (including wheelchairs) over motor vehicles in most areas of the event. And Oakhurst’s got a solid network of accessible sidewalks and curb ramps as well to get you through and around the neighborhood.
Beyond that, we do everything we can to discourage driving. In addition to keeping the traffic down, this also ensures that those who absolutely do have to drive (such as those with disabilities) can find adequate parking in close proximity to where things are happening.
Will you be closing streets?
No. We're committed to the sharing of public space and making the effort to accommodate one another. For drivers, this means slowing down dramatically and expecting to find pedestrians, bikes, and crowds spilling out into the street. And for those enjoying the festival, it means remaining vigilant, exercising caution, and recognizing that sometimes people in cars just need to get somewhere. So relax, get out of the way when appropriate (especially in the case of emergency vehicles), and make it work. It's the neighborly thing to do.
Watch for this street signage we launched in 2016.
Is there a hashtag?
Use #oakhurstporchfest for all your tweeting, Instagramming and Facebooking needs.
Are there pictures?
Lots of pictures. Which we hope you'll add to significantly this year. Check out and add to the #oakhurstporchfest hashtag on Instagram here.
Is Porchfest a replacement for the Oakhurst Arts and Music Festival?
While it’s true that Porchfest was born to fill a void in 2015 when Harmony Park construction prevented the Arts and Music Festival from taking place, the two events are otherwise unrelated. We can’t speak to whether or not Arts and Music will ever return but we’re certainly supportive of any efforts by its organizers and supporters to get it going again. The more, the merrier.
I've still got questions.
Who organizes this?
The Oakhurst Porchfest is brought to you by The Decatur Arts Alliance, the Porchfest organizing crew, countless musicians, and hundreds of Oakhurst neighbors, with the added assistance of city sanitation and the Decatur Police Department.
Hot Pants grab the attention of actor Andrew Lincoln, Oakhurst Porchfest, 2015.
Note: There are a lot of Porchfest photos that get passed our way by various folks. If any photo on this site deserves an attribution we're unaware of, please let us know here and we'll get it added. Thanks.