Eric Scharver and David Jakubowski, of the band Brother Hallow, play a song on the porch of a home on Leroy Street during The Front Porch’s third festival in 2019.

Eric Scharver and David Jakubowski, of the band Brother Hallow, play a song on the porch of a home on Leroy Street during The Front Porch’s third festival in 2019.

File photo by Donna Agusti

Front Porch aiming for summer return after 1-year absence

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 20, 2021


FERNDALE — A popular Ferndale event is set to return shortly after the start of the summer in late June.

The Front Porch, a citywide musical festival that takes place on the porches of homes across Ferndale, will return after last year’s absence, unless there is an unforeseen cancellation.

The city previously stated it would not allow any events to take place in Ferndale until the beginning of June, citing concerns with COVID-19. The Front Porch currently is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 26.

In planning this year’s festival, event producer Michael Benghiat said organizers likely will have to reimagine the event and scale it back to make it more manageable and to have the necessary pandemic protocols in place.

“In the end, we’re gonna have to rely on the cooperation of attendees, and, hopefully, they’ll be respectful of their neighbor’s community and other attendees to do just that,” he said. “I have strong confidence that they will. We’re only proceeding because the city of Ferndale OK’d it, and they’re greenlighting events for the summer right now. Anything can change though, based on state guidelines and any other issues that might arise between now and then.”

COVID-19 will be a consistent concern as the event draws closer. With the concerts taking place outside, however, it does allow attendees to distance themselves from others, Benghiat said.

Benghiat requests that those who do attend wear face masks, though he’s aware it’s not something he can require.

“Given the attendance that we’ve had in the past, that people were so cordial to one another and to porch hosts and to artists, the right things will be done,” he said.

The Front Porch is accepting applications from musicians and porch hosts to participate this year. Anyone interested can get more information at Benghiat also stated that any businesses looking to sponsor the event can visit the site as well, as a lack of sponsorships needed to cover operational costs might affect whether or not they can pull off the show.

Because the event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the last time The Front Porch was held was in 2019. Back then, more than 55 musicians performed on more than 30 porches in Ferndale.

A scaled-back version of the festival may include the same number of porches with fewer musicians; however, the final layout remains to be determined.

Benghiat said he’s already messaged every porch host and musician who participated in the three previous events to see if they would be interested in hosting and performing, respectively. The response so far has been a “resounding yes.”

As of April 16, The Front Porch had received 14 submissions from porch hosts and 17 from musicians.

“The response was so positive. People are ready for this,” said Benghiat. “People want to be able to participate in events in general, but they really miss this event.”

Connor Meeth, a Ferndale resident who lives on Vester Avenue, submitted his porch as a host this year.

Meeth previously was a host in both 2018 and 2019, and he said the experiences were great. He said he mulled over whether he was concerned with allowing his porch to be used this year, but was comfortable with moving forward.

“It is outdoors,” he said. “There is a border on how far away you need to stand, so that’s kind of nice. I got my second vaccination. So has my wife. I didn’t really worry about it.”

Meeth also felt this festival is different from any other that could be held in Ferndale, as it isn’t as closed-in while others might get packed.

“It might get crowded, but it doesn’t have the same structure of a really packed crowd,” he said. “It can really open up. People can go to a bunch of different places. There’s bands all over the place. If it’s too crowded, they can just walk a couple houses away and still hear it or just go home if they think it’s too crowded.”