Florida Seafood Festival, Oyster Cookoff, Independence Day Eve, that exclusive club of premier Apalachicola events, has gotten a new member.
Saturday’s PorchFest, in which 26 bands encompassing 62 performers, all spread out across porches and stages and lawn around town, proved itself far and away the biggest of the three years it has been happening, prompted by the 2020 pandemic.
“We got lucky with a beautiful day. We couldn’t have ordered up anything more perfect,” said Jenny Odom, who together with Mick Barlament and Marti Hoffman formed the corre committee of the event, whose net proceeds will go to PALS, the friends group that supports the Apalachicola Margaret Key Library.
“We have gotten a lot of great feedback, and have no idea how to count the crowd, it was huge,” said Odom. “Clearly the word is out that this is a great event.”
Barlament and Hoffman said the response from musicians and attendees alike was positive.
“Many people came from out of town, booked local hotels, spent their money at local merchants, ate at local restaurants,” said Hoffman, noting that T-shirt and commemorative poster sales doubled this year. “People were asking about the date for next year already so they can book the rooms and reserve their golf carts. Many said PorchFest has become their favorite festival in the area.”
Odom said having Andy Bass as the day’s emcee, for the second year in a row, proved that “having a true master of ceremonies is very important to the success of the event. He kept goers informed throughout the day, and did it with style and bravado.
“Before the finale, he helped auction off a large version of this year’s poster signed by all the musicians, and framed by Tommy Cooper,” Odom said. “Just that alone made an extra $500 for the library.”
The event drew on scores of volunteers, many of them corralled by the Elder Care Community Council’s Bonnie Kellogg, who drew on her connections with ECCC and various charitable organizations to like up personnel and porches.
“PALS was a great event partner, they added a lot of great energy to the day,” said Odom. “They set up a wonderful hospitality tent with snacks and hydration for musicians and volunteers.”
Downtown merchants, including eating establishments, said they were busy the entire day, and food offerings were further enhanced by food trucks A Train Stop, Mellow Mullet, and Cathy Buell’s SGI Cat Allies, who served up at Lafayette Park, which along with the Gibson Inn and Live Oak Gallery served as one of the three main stages.
“It was a long day, and folks got hungry,” said Odom.
With the help of sponsorships, PorchFest was able to pay all the musicians, the first time the event has been able to do that.
The local ukulele group, The Ukulillies, started the day at Lafayette Park. “That proved to be one of the best decisions we made,” Odom said. “They were a huge hit with the great selection of upbeat and eclectic songs, and excellent choral arrangements.
The Gibson Inn porch stage, offering a bar and limited menu, was packed all day as it featured local performers, Betsy Crabb, Gill Autrey, and David Lloyd, wrapping up with Celtic on the Halfshell in their kilts and Irish wardrobe.
Live Oak Gallery’s two energetic bands from Tallahassee, Two Foot Level and The Fried Turkeys, proved to be one of the most popular spots of the day, with near standing room only on the lawn. Owner Andrea Comstock has proved to be an important festival partner with a great venue, Odom said.
“We mostly want to say thank you to all the musicians, porch hosts, volunteers, sponsors, the city of Apalachicola, and all of the people who attended and donated money,” said Odom. “It went above our expectations, and we look forward to setting a date soon for 2023.”
Just announced – it’s Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023.