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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

Porchfest 2023

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Designed by Kim Bogosian

Porchfest, a townwide music festival, will take place for the first time in Rutherford this year. A Borough filled with so many houses with beautiful porches seems to be the perfect place for local musical talent to perform for our community. Not only will everyone have the opportunity to see what makes this town architecturally appealing, but they will also get a chance to hear many different types of music.

This is Rutherford interviewed Matt Ackermann, a member of the Rutherford Arts Committee, and Kim Bogosian, Public Information Officer for the Borough to learn more about this event that will take place on Saturday, November 4th.

TIR: How did the Rutherford Arts Committee come up with the idea for Porchfest?

Matt Ackermann: Great question and thank you so much for taking the time to chat! Porchfest is a concept that originated in Ithaca, NY and has spread like wildfire across the region. I understand it was something that the Council considered a few years ago, and Eddie Narucki (the chair of the Arts Committee) began discussing it with all of us on the committee about a year ago. If I’ve learned anything in Rutherford, great things happen when a great idea intersects with amazing volunteers who are energized to get an idea done! We are so fortunate to have such amazing volunteers, specifically Alex Britez and Eddie, with the arts committee to get this going!

TIR: As the main organizers for this event, what were some of the logistics involved in planning such a huge event?

MA: Logistics were eye-opening for me. I have had the pleasure of working with Alex to gather bands and porches. It has been a joy to work with the Mayor’s office, the incredible communications team, our Borough Administrator, and the Rutherford Police. To be honest, there have been a lot of moving pieces but by working with such amazing people it worked out smoothly thus far.

Kim Bogosian: This event is a great illustration of how residents who are appointed to serve on committees can make great things happen in our town. Matt Ackermann, who ended up being the chair of this committee, reached out to me with fellow Arts Committee members Alex Britez and Mike Pelczynski, to see how we could get the ball rolling on this. I looped in their Council liaison Matt Cokeley, Mayor Nunziato, and the Borough Administrator and together we determined the best course of action. We had the committee articulate their concept in a way that could be easily presented to the departments that would be most affected by this event. In this case, it was the Police Department as it relates to traffic and safety. Generally speaking, other events may impact the DPW or Rec Department more.

One of the great things about PorchFest is that because it’s hosted at private houses, there are few Borough resources required for it. This is truly a volunteer-driven event that keeps costs down. As the town's Public Information Officer, I’ve offered support for advertising and communications, but otherwise, it’s being organized by a fantastic team of volunteers who simply want to elevate the arts within Rutherford. It was my pleasure to act as a sounding board for the committee as they drew out an action plan and coordinated with the Borough for this inaugural event.

TIR: Were you surprised by the number of people who volunteered their porches?

MA: Honestly, early on Kim Bogosian asked me what success would look like. I said I hoped for three porches and 5 bands. We were so lucky to get 18 possible porches and more than 60 bands reached out to us. I am always floored by how generous Rutherfordians are.

KB: Personally, I thought we’d be overwhelmed by the amount of porches that were volunteered, knowing how many stunning homes we have in Rutherford. I had no idea over 60 musicians would volunteer an hour of their time. That really drove home the point about why it’s important we provide a space for musicians to perform.

TIR: How did you choose the bands and musicians who will be playing on the porches that day?

MA: We had a great committee led by Alex and Jeff Statile who listened to every artist and from there selected the top 15 for us to consider. Alex has been a godsend.

Designed by Kim Bogosian

TIR: Why do you think an event such as this is important to our Borough?

MA: Lifting the arts and music is such a priority for all of us. We need kids who don’t play sports to be able to see and find their tribe.

Any opportunity to bring this community together to hear great music and celebrate awesome architecture is a real gift.

KB: I think this is the kind of event that proves a community is serious about supporting the arts. It’s the perfect combination of a grassroots volunteer effort fully supported at all times by the Mayor, the Governing Body, and the Borough as needed. It gives whole families an opportunity to participate in a day-time event.

TIR: What is most exciting about this event?

MA: Honestly, I can’t wait to see all the bands in action. There is so much incredible talent from 8 to 80 and we want to put it all on display.

KB: For me, it’s all of the above.

TIR: What can people expect during Porchfest?

MA: In a word: Fun. We can’t wait to stroll through Rutherford and hear music streaming from 7 porches throughout the day. It will feel like a borough-wide party!

KB: A day of community. We can all make it what we want it to be.

TIR: Anything else you wish to add?

MA: We encourage everyone to support the bands by virtually tipping the bands at the different porches. We will have different QR codes at the porches. All of the bands are donating their time for Porchfest and we would love to support them!

KB: The first time an event happens, it can be hard to visualize what it will be. I’d like to thank all the people who took the leap to volunteer their time, houses, and talent and buy into the Arts Committee vision. I know it will be a fantastic day. I’d like to especially thank the Arts Committee for all their organizational skills and hustle – without that an idea simply remains an idea. This Arts Committee did all the work.

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