The fourth annual Porch Fest in Carriage Town is underway

FLINT, Michigan — Bring a chair, a friend, and good vibes to Carriage Town on Friday, July 21 as it comes alive yet again for the fourth annual Porch Fest. Located at 316 W. Water Street in Flint, those in attendance can look forward to live music and entertainment, bounce houses, street art, yard games, and food from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. while supplies last.

Flint natives Travis Gilbert, Derek Dohrman, and Jeff Skigh have joined forces to organize an event that transforms the neighborhood of Carriage Town into a theatre of homes showcasing how there can be irrefutable beauty, unity, and sheer enjoyment right on our front lawns.

“We’re expecting this year’s Porch Fest to be the biggest yet,” said Gilbert. “The neighborhood is revitalized and so Porch Fest gets even better. It’s a thing that improves as the city itself improves.”

Local emcees Mama Sol and Jeff Skigh will headline the festival with several other local artists such as Erik Mcintyre & Alex Belhaj, Glory, Big Donut, Tay Boogie, The Write-Ups, Jason Waggoner, Fernando Silverio Solis y el sueno, The Outfit, Figga the Kid, Synthia Looper, Hypyr, and Rushmore Pass, showcasing their art across the stretch of front porches that have been craftily arranged as stages.

Sponsors of this year's Porch Fest include Greater Flint Arts Council, Communities First Inc., Kettering University, LightSky Farms, Jars Cannabis, Inspire Canna Co, LASCO, and Foutch’s Pub.
Promotional flier for Porch Fest in Carriage Town 2023.
Porch Fest is a free, community-oriented event that involves homeowners volunteering their porches or front yards as stages and local musicians and artists convene to showcase their talent. Porchfest is typically organized in neighborhoods or small communities to promote local talent and create a casual and accessible atmosphere for attendees to enjoy live music, art displays, and sometimes even theatrical performances. 

The festival arrived in the city of Flint by way of Kady Yellow who accepted a public position to serve as the Director of Placemaking in Michigan during the pandemic. Yellow worked closely with Flint residents to make engaging decisions to design what is essentially a family-friendly block party activating porches, sidewalks, roads, driveways, abandoned houses, and vacant lots.

“It is not my vision, the people lead me,” says Yellow. “Porchfest is a great model, there are over 800 similar-style gatherings around the nation. Each city customizes the concept, and it's a very impactful community engagement to revitalize from the bottom up. I often visited Carriage Town when living on South Saginaw Street in Flint, and a group of neighbors got together and hatched the idea. It worked so well, the model was brought to neighborhoods on the Northside; there were six porch fests in 2021.”

Yellow has since transitioned from Flint but not without leaving behind a Porch Fest “How to Guide” or blueprint that allows those who are interested in keeping the tradition alive.

“Rather than the torch being passed, we see it as the torch being expanded,” says Gilbert. “So, there should be many hands carrying the torch because it’s growing to be pretty big. At this point, we’re thinking of forming a committee, a ‘Friends on The Porch’ if you will.”

In addition to headlining the event, Jeff Skigh has taken on a more instrumental role as he is now assisting in the planning and execution of Porch Fest. He believes that Porch Fest is positively impacting people as he’s seen the number of suitors grow exponentially from event to event. As a music artist and humanitarian, Skigh’s intentions are simple: to unify the community and lead by example.

“We’re introducing new artists to people, which is cool. Some people come and find their new favorite rapper, singer, or band.” Skigh shares. “It’s always cool seeing people you haven't seen in a while and it feels good to see people come together that actually want to engage with the community.” 

You can find a map of Carriage Town and its carousel of porches, vendors, and restrooms here.
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Read more articles by Jarielle Tasha Nettles.