Nestled within seven beautiful valleys lies Cortland County, known mostly for their top-tier college and booming agriculture. But for those outside of Cortland, it is often just a city to pass through on their way to Ithaca or Syracuse. Molly Andrejko (of Molly and the Badly Bent Bluegrass Boys) and several other key community members and neighbors are trying to change that.
The first Cortland Porchfest will be held Sunday, August 28 from Noon to 5pm on Van Hoesen between Chestnut and Harrison Streets in Cortland. Attendees will be able to visit 13 porches throughout the day, with activities and music running continuously. Organizers of the event encourage people to bring their kids, family members and friends to an event in which they hope to see grow in years to come.
The idea of a Porchfest isn’t new. Ithaca started their own years ago, spawning into a thriving day of local music and community activities. Cortland has even had their own share of success with local festival Seedstock, which this year had grown from one to three days with camping, local food vendors and artists. Cortland Porchfest is trying to do something different, however; a free event, focusing on giving the younger generation access to an audience they may otherwise not have is just one of the goals in which Andrejko and others are aiming for.
Organizers will be taking donations to give to the Cortland City Youth Bureau’s music program, in hopes of giving children access to instruments and music. It is important to keep the youth interested in activities that could, in the long run, substantially benefit the community. Donations will also be going toward a yet-to-be-determined local parks initiative in an effort to lend a hand to the beautification and safety of local parks.
In a celebration of past and future, Porchfest hopes to show the community exactly how lucky they are to have an abundance of talent in their backyard. Many participants had parents who grew up in the neighborhood, and on any night of the week you could take a walk around the block and hear a band practicing. It’s just the way it has always been. Cortland is a musical hot spot, and maybe with the help of Porchfest, younger bands and artists can get the exposure they deserve but don’t normally get.
“I chose to come back here,” says Andrejko. “I want to raise my children in a community that continues to give back and inspire the youth.” And she isn’t the only one. Cortland Junior High music teacher Jen Rafferty has been giving her all to give children access to information and music that they may otherwise not have. In addition to starting a rock guitar class, she is constantly seeking ways to keep kids energized and interested. A few high school bands will be performing at Porchfest, including the band Epoch. In a world where children are exposed to the arts less and less, it is a blessing that there are people trying to change that.
In addition to many musicians donating their time to the event, there will also be a handful of children’s activities including face painting, crafts and storytelling. Nate the Great will be showcasing his juggling skills, Lime Hollow Nature Center will be tie-dying, and Uncorked Creations will also be in the mix. Studio Z Dance Troupe will also be showcasing their talent. To say there is a little something for everyone is an understatement.