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Vankleek Hill's own Celtic Flare performs for the crowd at Porchfest on Saturday, July 17. Photo by Barry Goudreau

Crowds dance and sing along, as Porchfest brings live music back to Vankleek Hill

It was a beautiful day for Vankleek Hill’s first big event in more than a year, as crowds danced and sang along to the music at Porchfest on Saturday, July 17.

This year’s downsized Porchfest saw 12 different performers playing on porches throughout Vankleek Hill from noon until 5 p.m. While it was a notable drop from the 40 acts that played when Porchfest was last held in 2019, the smaller event was appreciated more than ever by everyone who attended, said the event’s organizer.

“The people on the street, the happy, smiling faces, were more than I even expected,” said Porchfest Chairman Ken Duff. “It didn’t matter what street you were on – the whole atmosphere was amazing.”

The smaller format was much easier to organize than in past years Duff said, and feedback he received at the event was very positive.

“A lot of people said to me that they really appreciated the smaller scale because they got to see more acts,” Porchfest’s chairman noted. “That was one main comment people made about the event that struck me – smaller might be better.”

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.

Organizer of Porchfest announced well in advance that all COVID-19 protocols in place at the time of the event would be followed and that masks and social distancing would be mandatory for spectators. Porchfest’s chairman said music lovers were in general wonderfully behaved at the event and were accepting and even appreciative of the safety protocols.

“We had tremendous cooperation on masks,” Duff said. “I want to thank everyone for respecting the masking requirement, knowing it’s a burden on a hot day like that.”

Duff also thanked the many volunteers and sponsors who helped out with the event. Low’s Realty Inc. in Vankleek Hill was once again the title sponsor of Porchfest for 2021.

The longtime organizer of Porchfest was especially grateful to all of the performers who played for free at the event.

“I want to thank all the musicians for coming out and doing the excellent job they always do,” Duff said. “All the music was fantastic, all the musicians showed up and did exactly what we expected. It was great.”

Porchfest organizers also shot videos of all of the musicians this year in order to put together a compilation video so that anyone who could not attend will be able to view portions of the performances. All of the videos of the musicians will appear in the order that each played and it will take some time to put the finished product together by compiling all of the videos.

The finished video is expected to be posted sometime in the next two weeks on the Porchfest Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/vkhporchfest. It will also be shared on The Review’s Facebook page.

Reid Masson

Reid Masson is a graduate of Algonquin College's Journalism Program. He has over 20 years of experience as a staff writer and editor for various newspapers across Canada, including The Ottawa Citizen and Brockville Recorder and Times.

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