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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Porch Rokr back for encore in Highland Square

10/10/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

The Bleeding Feathers are shown performing in Highland Square during the first Porch Rokr in June. The band will be among the more than 100 performers at the next Porch Rokr/Art in the Square Oct. 12.
Photo courtesy of the Highland Square Neighborhood Association
HIGHLAND SQUARE — Porch Rokr was so successful when it debuted in Highland Square last June that the Highland Square Neighborhood Association (HSNA) is bringing it back again Oct. 12.

The neighborhood music festival has been combined with HSNA’s Art in the Square festival for a day of activities that will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 7 p.m. with a concert featuring some of the area’s best known local artists.

“One of the really nice things about this whole event is you can just walk around,” said Mark Smith, HSNA secretary. “No matter where you go, there’s going to be something interesting playing.”

Porch Rokr was originally held in June and featured performances by dozens of bands and other entertainers on porches and in yards in the area of the neighborhood northeast of the intersection of Portage Path and West Market Street.

The idea had been conceived as a fundraiser for Art in the Square, the HSNA’s annual festival, which had been planned this year for Aug. 31. Meanwhile, the city of Akron wanted to sponsor the festival, so its own event, Square Fest, took that date. The HSNA, wanting to keep its event neighborhood-run, moved Art in the Square to Oct. 12 and decided to reprise Porch Rokr as part of the event.

Anita Marron, HSNA president, said the first Porch Rokr was an immediate success.

“We were mostly amazed at the atmosphere, the way people responded to it, and it was so relaxed,” Marron said. “People really accepted it and we got really great feedback. It was just an exceptional day.”

Because vendors had already been lined up for Art in the Square and Porch Rokr raised money for that event, HSNA decided that the festival still needed to go on this year, but it will be the last, Marron said.

“We kind of knew we weren’t going to have Market Street,” she said. “We scouted Portage Path and knew there was some good locations. We decided we would use the Porch Rokr theme again and just mix it up with Art in the Square and hope for the best.”

The Porch Rokr event will take place this time in the neighborhood southeast and southwest of the intersection of Portage Path and West Market Street, from South Rose Boulevard to Grand Avenue. Organizers hope to move the event around in subsequent years as well, they said.

“We don’t want to overwhelm a neighborhood by doing it every year in the same location,” Marron said. “I think as cool as it is, it might wear on some residents, so to move it around and give a couple of years in between will keep it fresh.”

Instead of artists’ booths lining one street, the 130 artists at the event will be spread out in groups around the neighborhood, Smith said.

As for the music and performers, this time there are 120 acts signed up to participate, with just about every musical genre represented.

“We set the limit at 100, but they kept coming,” Smith said.

Among the acts performing this time are The Mickeys, Zobapago, Rio Neon, Elipsus, Rhodes Street Rude Boys, Shivering Timbers and Winslow.

The final event will see local musician Zach take the main stage (920 W. Market St.) at 7 p.m. with guests Rachel Roberts, Ryan Humbert and other local artists.

Also new this time around is a temporary skate park set up off of Grand Avenue sponsored by Good Life Tattoos, Revival and Square Records.

A variety of food also will be available from vendors, including several food trucks parked on South Portage Path at Elmore Avenue.

Parking will be available at private lots around the event site, Smith said. But he recommended visitors walk or ride a bike to the festival for the easiest way to get around. Blimp City Bike and Hike will be on hand with a bicycle valet service, Marron added.

While the organizers said this weekend’s event marks the end of Art in the Square, they said they are energized by the success of Porch Rokr and hope to evaluate how the combination event works this time around.

“After we see how it works out, we’ll determine exactly what we do next year,” Smith said.

For more details, including a schedule and map, go to www.porchrokr.com.

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