Walk & Roll: Rhinebeck Jams Out At Porchfest
Some of the porches on the festival lineup.
By Andrea Pyros
If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with Rhinebeck’s lovely historic homes, the first inaugural Rhinebeck Porchfest music festival on Saturday, September 17 is your chance to walk right up to the front steps. The rocking chairs may be removed for the day, but they’ll be replaced by bands of all kinds. Organized by Rhinebeck resident Elizabeth Mazzarella with the goal of creating “a wonderful day of celebration” for our area, Porchfest will feature over 45 musical acts, performing free on 18 different porches located on Platt, Livingston and Chestnut, from Route 9 to Mulberry Street.
Mazzarella visited her daughter, then a first year student at Ithaca College, on the same weekend as Ithaca’s Porchfest. Seeing how fun the free outdoor music festival was inspired her. “It was an amazing community event, with all ages strolling the streets and listening to music, and everyone was just so happy,” says Mazzarella. Afterwards, she decided that Rhinebeck’s walkable village with “all these historic homes with gorgeous porches” would be the perfect community to export Porchfest.
Setting out to create the Hudson Valley’s own version, she worked with Rhinebeck’s village board, police and fire departments, local-area vendors, and her own neighbors to make the day happen. “I went door to door and asked [residents] if they’d be willing to donate their porches for the day and people were really excited. It’s been amazing,” she says.
Assorted approvals set, not-for-profit status secured, Mazzarella and a team of Porchfest committee members (including Mazzarella’s music-loving husband, Allen Decotiis) then brainstormed musical acts, reaching out to local artists and bands. Genres range wildly, so whether you like jazz or rock or classical or a crazy mash-up of all three, Mazzarella assures us that there will be performances for you, including eagerly anticipated sets from Gilda Lyons & Ruth Cunningham (folk/neo-baroque), the jazz combo of Ann Osmond and Dennis Yerry, and a kids’ group (as in, kids performing) called Chalk. All the musicians are donating their time to the day.
Making it even easier and more pleasurable to roam the neighborhood freely for the afternoon, the streets will be blocked off, the Dutchess County Fairgrounds will offer free parking, and in addition to the music, local food vendors, including Frites of NY, Carol’s Hot Dogs, Spacey Tracy’s Gourmet Pickles and The Cup Takes the Cake will sell food. With the event ending at 5 p.m., the hope is that people will then stroll into the village and visit Rhinebeck’s shops and restaurants afterwards.
Planning Porchfest has been a ton of work, Mazzarella admits, but the organizer says planning the day has been fantastic and a great way to meet new people (“Isn’t that what this is all about?” she enthuses). “We’re hoping for a great day, and for people to have fun, and for this to become an annual event around Rhinebeck.”