Mapleton PorchFest returns for another year of tunes and good times – Boulder Daily Camera
When Anna Lindsay was a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, she would walk a few blocks from her home on the hill to the Mapleton neighborhood whenever she felt homesick.
“I would go and look at all the big royal houses and cry and think how much I missed my mom,” Lindsay said. “I would walk by people’s houses and see them eating dinner or playing outside as a family, which sounds kind of sad and scary, but it comforted me so much because it reminded me of home and my family. It always made me feel better.”
One afternoon, as Lindsay made her routine “sad student” walk to Mapleton, she stumbled upon a sight that was sure to lift her spirits: The entire neighborhood was abuzz with the sounds of music and laughter, and—Lindsay remembers vividly—the smell of popcorn wafting through the air.
Lindsay inadvertently stumbled upon Mapleton PorchFest, a live music festival that replaces stages with front porches and long concession lines for lemonade stands.
This year, PorchFest returns to the Mapleton Hill neighborhood with the largest and most expansive lineup of performers and porches in the festival’s 11-year history. On Sunday, PorchFest will feature a record number of bands and balconies in a new three-set format – with more than 40 bands and two dozen balconies joining in on the festivities.
“After every PorchFest, the main thing we hear from people is that they want there to be more,” said Kathleen Spear, a longtime PorchFest organizing committee member. “More music, more days of music, more festival hours. So, in response to that, we decided to try to extend it. This year, there will be more of everything.”
Participating balconies will be located east to west between Ninth and Third Streets and north to south between Concord and Spruce Streets. The first group of shows will take place from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm, followed by a 20-minute break. The second group, in which new artists will participate, will start from 1:50 to 2:50 in the afternoon, followed by another 20-minute break. The third group will conclude the event, with more new artists, from 3:10 to 4:10 p.m. on Sunday.
Last year’s PorchFest drew a record 1,500 participants. This year, according to Speer, there are set to be even more.
“It’s a joyful event, it’s a strong community builder, and every year more and more people come out,” Spear said. “The neighborly feeling is quite palpable. People come from all over the city and county and still feel the same sense of community.
For Lindsey, finding PorchFest was like finding an oasis in the desert.
“As an undergraduate at a big school like UCLA, you sometimes feel lost when you’re walking around campus or in a giant lecture hall or at a huge party,” Lindsay said. “Even if you have a good group of friends, sometimes you still feel like you’re missing that intimate community that you have when you live in a small town. When I found PorchFest, I went to this house that was serving popcorn and I remember being grateful for the free snack because I was in Student Budget. And I felt this overwhelming sense of belonging because I felt cared for, even though it was just a bag of popcorn.
The house with the popcorn belongs to none other than Marybeth Emerson, veteran PorchFest host and queen of concessions. Emerson started as PorchFest in 2012, when PorchFest was in its infancy.
“When I first heard there was a PorchFest, I knew I had to volunteer at my house,” Emerson said. “I have a very large balcony and I love participating in community events like this. The first two years, I hosted one of the music groups, and after that, I signed up to host two of the groups, because it was so much fun.
According to Speer, being a porch host comes with some very simple responsibilities: You must clear your front yard, set up chairs (optional) and allow the band to use your bathroom.
Emerson, who has lived in the Mapleton neighborhood since 2005, goes a little further as a porch hostess.
“I always make sure to put lemonade on top, make popcorn and serve it in old popcorn boxes for the neighbors to enjoy,” Emerson said. “I’ll also have a little booth where people can enter to win a really cool backpack, and I’ll have a kids’ booth. And of course, I have some of the best bands playing on my porch, so it’s always a tie.”
Two bands will play on the porch of the historic Tudor-style Emerson House, including the Aulternate Reality Trio, a jazz group, and blues singer Rex Peoples.
“The best part about this whole thing is meeting new people and new friends,” Emerson said. “I love being a host because you feel that sense of energy and community; everyone is always in a great mood at PorchFest, and you get to meet people in such a great environment.”
For those who need a little more than popcorn to fill them up, food trucks from Sweet Cow, Los Dos Bros Mexican food, Passport Traveling Eatery and Post Chicken and Beer will be on site to fuel the festival. There will also be a live broadcast from Mapleton Hill by Boulder’s Community Radio station KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM).
For a schedule and final lineup of musical acts coming to a porch near you, visit mapletonhillporchfest.com for more information.