PorchFestKC has a new home. After losing favor with the neighborhood that hosted its first two years, the afternoon music festival will move to the porches of Valentine, says organizer Kathryn Golden. She’s set a date for Oct. 8.
Golden says she was disappointed back in September, when the West Plaza Neighborhood Association's board of directors voted not to sponsor the third year of PorchFestKC. But after taking a step back, she says she discovered it was a chance to find a neighborhood that better suited what the festival was becoming.
“The spirit of that (West Plaza) neighborhood was fantastic, and the engagement was great, and many were very upset when it went away," Golden says. "But when I really thought about it, what was originally a draw became a liability."
Initially, she says, the West Plaza's narrow streets and small porches were perfect for what she imagined would be a small festival.
"I didn’t know it was going to become that popular," Golden says. "The reality of it was, it was hard to find a place to put a six-piece band.”
Yet Golden says her goal is not to expand the festival.
“I think the American way is you always want bigger, better, faster,” she says. “And I just kind of want the better part. I feel like 33 stages and 110 bands playing 129 hours of music is probably a good chunk of time and that’s not necessarily something we need to grow. I don’t think the goal is to ever be bigger than that.”
Once word got out that West Plaza vetoed PorchFestKC, Golden was inundated with neighborhoods around the metro, from Liberty to Lee's Summit, lobbying to bring the music festival to their doorsteps. For Golden, keeping the festival in the city was a priority.
The Valentine neighborhood association started its campaign to bring the music to its turn-of-the-century porches early.
“As soon as we heard the news, we all went, ’This is something we want,’” says Drew Gilmore, co-president of the Valentine Neighborhood Association, who describes Valentine as “kind of a gem in the middle of the city. We have more parking, the streets are wider, the porches are bigger. It just seemed like a good spot for it to go.”
Golden says making the decision was difficult.
“Within the city, there were three different neighborhoods that lobbied hard for it,” she says. “And I considered them strongly. I literally drove the neighborhoods multiple times just trying to figure out, is there space?”
Ultimately, Golden says, Valentine had all of the elements she was seeking in a neighborhood.
And when Valentine's Gilmore got the news, he says, he was thrilled.
“We did a little dance,” he says. “Kathryn puts together an awesome event and we will do whatever we need to do to help it be successful. But it’s her baby. We’re just happy she picked our neighborhood.”
Julie Denesha is a freelance photographer and reporter for KCUR. Follow her @juliedenesha.