Fenway Porchfest Returns After Two-Year Absence As In-Person Event

Following a two-year absence due to the pandemic, Fenway Porchfest returned for the third time as an in-person event on Saturday, July 9.

The event was again a partnership of Fenway Civic Association, Fenway Alliance, and the Fenway Community Development Corporation and, as its promotional tagline – “Music everywhere, porches optional” – suggests, Fenway Porchfest featured more than 80 different musical acts performing across a wide array of genres in 31 different outdoor spaces throughout the neighborhood. These diverse performance spaces included the grounds of The Verb Hotel, 401 Park, Massachusetts Historical Society, the Emerald Necklace, and the Museum of Fine Arts, among other locations.

Musicians and residents took to the streets and parks in the Fenway area on July 9 to revive Porchfest following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

For the first time, New Edgerly Road was shut down to vehicular traffic on the day of the event through the efforts of City Councilor Kenzie Bok’s office, which helped fulfill a longtime request from the Fenway Civic Association, said Marie Fukuda, a Fenway Civic Association board member and one of the Fenway Porchfest organizers.

This pilot program opened up space for games, sidewalk art, and the MWRA (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority) water truck, as well as for Oakleaf Cakes Bake Shop selling cookies and a signature collection to help save the 55 bus line, added Fukuda.

While there was no official tally on attendance, Fenway Porchfest organizers printed 3,000 brochures this year, according to Fukuda, which were all snatched up during the first third of the event.

“Saying we had over 4,000 [in attendance] wouldn’t be an exaggeration,” said Fukuda,, who added that this also marked an increase from the last event in 2019 when only 2,000 brochures were printed. This year also had more performers and performance spaces than the last in-person Fenway Porchfest, she said.

The reception to this year’s Fenway Porchfest was “great,” said Fukuda, with event organizers receiving positive feedback from representatives from the performance sites and the community, and from the artist themselves. One attendee even likened the event to “Disneyland in Fenway” while other respondents lauded how effectively Fenway Porchfest connected both sides of the neighborhood this year.

Fukuda thanks everyone involved in making this year’s Fenway Porchfest such a huge success, especially hip-hop artist Red Shaydez, who curated a porch for the event, as well as the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, which conducted outreach activities in the park as part of Olmsted Now – a celebration to mark the bicentennial of the birth of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.

Porchfests are currently held in 100 cities across the U.S., with the inaugural Fenway Porchfest taking palace on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Organizers are calling this year’s Fenway Porchfest the third annual event, however, said Fukuda, as this was only the third time the event has taken place in person.

Fenway Porchfest was postponed as in-person event in both 2020 and again last year due to the pandemic, although in 2020, the event organizers produced a music video featuring an array of local musician who had all previously been Fenway Porchfest participants. Together (but separately), they riffed on the Standells’ classic “Dirty Water,” with neighborhood-specific alternate lyrics that alter the song’s chorus from “love that Dirty Water, oh, Boston, you’re my home” to “love that Muddy River, oh, Fenway, you’re my home.”

After the success of this year, organizers are already looking forward to the fourth annual Fenway Porchfest returning to the neighborhood as an in-person event again next summer.

“The goal of connecting neighbors with performing artists was met,” said Fukuda, “and we’re already excited about next year.”

Readers are encouraged to share their opinions and thoughts about Fenway Porch with event organizers via email at [email protected].

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