Tower PorchFest: Homeowners lend their porches and yards to a community-building event


Near Avenue performs at their own hosted porch they call, “Near A Venue.” (Blake Wolf/The Collegian)

By Jazmin Alvarado, Reporter

Ariel Bird How, a homeowner in Central Tower District, lent her house to The Sleepover Disaster for Tower PorchFest. She said she’s always thought she had a good porch for the event and when she found out her friend in The Sleepover Disaster was looking for a place to play, she offered her house.

She knew the event would be a great way for her to put her porch to good use and help uplift the community.

“This event is benefiting the community of Tower District because it’s bringing people together, getting the neighbors to know each other and the more family friendly events, the better audiences we attract. Plus music is good for everyone,” How said.

Her favorite part about the event was the fact that there was something for everyone. Simply walking around and listening to the different bands was entertaining.

“The ability to walk around and find something anywhere even without looking at the map is great. The spontaneity of the whole thing is awesome,” she said.

The third annual Tower PorchFest took place on April 29 in the Tower District and featured 59 porches with over 200 live performances from local musical artists.

The event was completely voluntary and neither organizers, performers or homeowners were paid.

The first PorchFest started in September of 2007, in Ithaca, New York. The event was inspired by outdoor ukulele playing and conversations between neighbors, according to the PorchFest website.

According to Jeremy Hofer, a Tower PorchFest co-founder and chair of the PorchFest committee, the Fresno version of PorchFest started in 2021 with 40 porches.

Since then, the event has grown massively and is now reaching extremely high numbers in both audience and performers.

Hofer said PorchFest is a great way for the community to network and make connections.

“Our mission is to build community through music and art, so the way that we’re building community is by bringing together residents, artists and musicians to present or perform on their porches for the public,” Hofer said.

“It’s all driven by the porches. It’s a completely volunteer run event so nobody gets paid to organize or put things on their porch. Ultimately if there were no musicians then this event wouldn’t happen. Because the musicians are willing to come out and share their music with the community, we get to keep doing this,” he added.

For James Rutledge, a homeowner, Tower PorchFest allowed him to get to know everyone in his neighborhood. He continues building relationships with those around him.

Crowds gather around porches in sweltering heat. (Blake Wolf/The Collegian)

“This event is crossing different boundaries. It’s really easy to not meet your neighbors and this is totally shattering those walls because you’ll get to know people by simply visiting their porch stage,” he said.

Rutledge said he has lived in the neighborhood for a few years but had never gotten to know anyone. Because of PorchFest, he now knows every one of his neighbors next door and even people from down the street.

Rutledge said his favorite part about PorchFest was how the event was bringing people together and also said everyone was very nice and happy to be there.

“My favorite part about PorchFest has been having the opportunity to get to know everyone in my little neighborhood,” Rutledge said.

Since the event is completely volunteer-based, each porch and band had a tip jar, encouraging attendees to keep the event running in the future.

Volunteers were placed in two hour shifts according to their availability and helped with distributing merchandise, answering questions and street monitoring.

Kenna Kitchens, one of the volunteers, said she is always looking for places and events to volunteer for. When she heard PorchFest needed volunteers, she was interested because she enjoys music.

“I like volunteering and when I saw the PorchFest flier on Instagram, I messaged my friends asking if they wanted to volunteer with me,” she said. “I do a lot of mentoring and volunteering and I also volunteer with Special Education children.”

Volunteering at PorchFest gave her the opportunity to give back to her community in a way that also allowed her to have fun with her friends.

“The event is really nice, it’s been super chill and I haven’t seen any issues. My favorite part has been the music on all the different porches and how everyone’s music is so different from one house to the next. PorchFest is bringing the community together by having people leave their houses and go outside,” Kitchens said.

The event was perfect for people to get to know each other and connect through music.

“We’ve been having a great time, it’s such a blast to be here and the energy is so awesome. It feels like one big friend group between the bands and the audiences and I think that’s so much fun,” said Jackie Aldern, a PorchFest attendee.

Justin Williams, a homeowner, said he works in one of the bars in Tower District and sees many of these people on a daily basis.

It wasn’t until PorchFest that he started to connect and interact with the community he lives and works in.

“This event is so much fun. There’s a lot of cool people and awesome talent in Fresno. It’s a great way for the community to come hangout and I love that people get to enjoy it for free. It’s perfect for bringing people together and allowing them to have a good time,” Williams said.

His favorite part of the event was being able to bond with his friends and the community around him in a way that was family-friendly and open to everyone.

“Having everyone gathered around a porch, enjoying live music is a great feeling for sure,” he said.