Imagine almost every street, veranda and balcony in a quiet village lulled to sleep by the extraordinary sounds of talented musicians playing for free. This was the 2023 edition of the Vankeek Hill Porchfest, which enchanted and bewitched an entire Ontario village on July 15.
For the event, the organizing committee invited some twenty musicians to perform at 15 different venues, bringing happiness to the citizens and visitors of Vankleek Hill. « We like it a lot, there are several musical styles and good musicians in the area. Everyone participates in the party and the atmosphere is really good, and it’s free, » marveled Michel Lemieux.
With beaming faces, chairs and stools under their arms, people weaved in and out of the streets to catch the next show.
« Here in Vankleek Hill, we organize a lot of events and it’s a way for us to promote our community and socialize together, » Gary pointed out. Champlain councillor Ginette Clément wouldn’t disagree, adding, « We’re a community that’s always together, that sticks together and we like to participate in our events. »
Completely free of charge
Among the bands and artists mobilized for the party were Gary Carpenter, 50 Proof, Jeff Holtby and Paul Lawrence, Forgotten Frequency, Libby & Cal, Steve Judd, High Street Band, Celtic Flare and Vankleek Hill Fiddlers. The 50 Proof, a local classic rock band, opened the Porchfest ball from the Arbor Gallery.
Reid Masson is a member of the group, and a member of the organizing committee, whose president is Martin Lacellle. « All the musicians play for free. We played country, rock and roll, punk too. The event is also a get-together for people who went to high school in Hawkesbury or attended Vankleek Hill and now live in Ottawa, Toronto or elsewhere, » he explained. In the program, the party is expected to continue into the night at Windsor Tavern, where all the artists will perform.
The event aims to bring joy to the community and is not for profit. « The musicians are not paid for their performances. Everything is done free of charge. The residents lend us their porches, and they also pay for the electricity for all the musicians, » said Ann Adele Robert, a member of the organizing committee.
To ensure that the Porchfest runs smoothly, the Vankleek Hill Business and Merchants Association supported the organizing committee.