Catalina Alers-Alers, whose voice you may recognize from the airwaves of 97.9 KISS FM, has lived in Springfield for four years. When she’s not dishing out hot takes on her radio show, she frequents all the neighborhood businesses along Main Street. And each year, she joins thousands of other Northeast Florida residents attending PorchFest, a music festival held on the front porches of Historic Springfield homes. PorchFest 2019 will take place on Saturday, November 9, 2019, from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“It just feels homey and very comfortable,” she says. “If I go to a festival at the beaches, it feels like I can get lost in the crowd. At PorchFest, you feel part of the crowd because people are sharing their homes and front porches with you. Even though you’re not going inside the house, it makes you feel like part of a giant neighborhood family.”
The family-friendly, free event will feature more than 20 musicians or groups, representing many genres, from Jacksonville and across the Southeastern U.S. Visitors are invited to stroll the sidewalks of Springfield and listen to the bands and “camp out” with a picnic blanket or chair on the front lawn as they listen. Be sure to visit the numerous art, food, and drink vendors to keep you going throughout the day. While you’re at it, just soak up the energy.
“I’ve lived in Springfield for the last four years. It’s such a cool feeling to walk right outside my steps and there’s all this activity and buzz going on in the neighborhood. There are people walking everywhere, you can hear music coming from Laura Street and Klutho Park, and it’s this energizing excitement as soon as you walk out.”
Alers-Alers has attended PorchFest with friends since first moving to the neighborhood, except for one solemn year. Her story is proof that missing the event, even for the best reasons, is a real bummer.
“I’ve been to PorchFest twice, but we had to miss last year because we were in Colombia for my cousin’s wedding. Even though we got engaged on that trip, my fiancé and I were still sad to miss PorchFest!” says Alers-Alers with a laugh. “Each year we invite everyone we know. We create a little Facebook event. Because we have a big back yard, we’ll start there with a pre-party, and we invite anyone who doesn’t live in Springfield and convince them to come hang out.”
PorchFest, because it’s such a unique event, is also a wonderful place to make new memories with loved ones. Alers-Alers recounts her favorite PorchFest scene, one anyone can experience during this year’s sundown performances in the park.
“I want to say it was two years ago; The Katz Downstairz was performing, and it was just as the sun was setting. All of Klutho Park had these beautiful shades of orange and red, I was with my friends and my fiancé, and everyone was so happy. It’s one of my favorite PorchFest memories,” she says.
PorchFest is also a great way to explore the Springfield Historic District. For those who have never visited the neighborhood, this event embodies the welcoming, celebratory feeling its residents exude year-round.
“I just love how big it’s gotten. I’ve lived in Springfield for the last four years and from the first one I’ve been to, it’s like it doubles in size every year. I’m always trying to get people to come hang out here, saying, ‘Let’s go to Crispy’s or Main & Six!’ It’s cool seeing new people discover Springfield and why we love it so much through this event each year.”
PorchFest brings important attention to Springfield’s historic architecture and ongoing revitalization and highlights the breadth of musical talent here in Jacksonville. Proceeds from the event are dedicated to support arts-related activities in Jacksonville’s urban core.
For more information about PorchFest and this year’s performers, visit www.jacksonvilleporchfest.org.