Porchfest will fill the streets with music this Saturday, July 17 – the first big event to be held in Vankleek Hill since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 12 performers will play on 10 porches throughout the village from Noon until 5 p.m. The event is smaller than in 2019, when 40 musicians played on more than 30 porches, but music lovers in Vankleek Hill are just thrilled to have the event back after it was cancelled along with virtually every other local event in 2020.

“There’s been a lot of really positive feedback on the fact (Porchfest) is happening,” said Porchfest Chairman Ken Duff. “I’ve had a number of emails and phone calls from people who can’t wait, because they haven’t missed one since the beginning and they’re anxious to see it again.”

Vankleek Hill’s 50 PROOF – fresh of its performance at the Canada PR 2021 virtual online concert – will kick off Porchfest this year. The popular local classic rock bank will be playing acoustic rock favorites in front of Jan Amell Photography at 92 Main Street from Noon until 1 p.m.

From 1-2 p.m. Foreman and Co. will be playing at 29 Hamil Street. Also playing from 1-2 p.m. are Shannah Lee Kennedy at 50 Derby Street, and Gail Kingsley, who will perform at 22 Bertha.

Regular Windsor Strings Sans Wings performer Jeff Holtby will bring his acoustic stylings to 102 Higginson Street from 2-3 p.m. Joining him at that time are The Co-Conspirators, who will be playing at 43 Derby, and Vankleek Hill’s own Top of the Hill band, which will play at 64 Union.

The 3-4 p.m. slot is an all-Vankleek-Hill affair, with Celtic Flare playing at 95 Higginson Street, while Balance performs at 28 Mill. Joining them in the 3-4 p.m. timeslot will be solo artist Martin Lacelle, who will play at 31 Bertha Street.

Wrapping up the day and playing from 4-5 p.m. will be two musical duos from out of town. Pakenham, Ontario’s JR and The Gator – featuring Hawkesbury native John Griffiths – will be playing at 32 Mill Street, while Hudson-based Pagoda Starling will perform at 98 Higginson.

Low’s Realty Inc. in Vankleek Hill has returned as the title sponsor of Porchfest for 2021. The full schedule for Porchfest 2021 can be found here http://porchfestvankleekhill.ca/schedule-map/ . There will also be an information sit4e set up this year at 26 Home Street to help guide visitors and provide information.

Unlike a normal year when bands sign themselves up on the Porchfest website, the musicians playing at the 2021 event were asked by invitation to play. Invitations were sent out to everyone who had played at multiple Porchfests and the 12 performers booked on a first-come-first-serve basis. A return to the normal format of open registration for musicians will return in 2022 after the pandemic is over.

All COVID-19 safety protocols in place at the time of the event must be followed. Masks and social distancing will be mandatory for spectators at Porchfest this year, regardless of what regulations are in place the day of the event.

Porchfest’s chairman said he expects crowds to be smaller in 2021 than at past events due to provincial health restrictions. There will be monitors at each porch while performers are playing to ensure masking and social distancing is being observed. Porchfest volunteers will also have masks to provide to anyone without one.

Porchfest organizers are also planning to video all of the musicians this year so that anyone who is not able to attend can view the performances on the Porchfest Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/vkhporchfest.

Classic Rock band 50 PROOF will kick off Vankleek Hill Porchfest at 92 Main Street beginning at Noon on Saturday, July 17.