Highland Square’s PorchRokr returns in August

By H.L Comeriato, Devil Strip Staff Reporter

PorchRokr — Highland Square’s beloved music and arts festival — will return to the neighborhood August 21.

The Highland Square Neighborhood Association, whose members have organized PorchRokr since it began in 2012, opted to host the event virtually last year as COVID-19 cases climbed across Summit County.

To adapt to public health orders and recommendations, organizers rebranded the festival as “CouchRokr,” and offered free, pre-recorded live sets from the bands and artists that typically perform on the porches of private homes in Highland Square.

This year, organizers and Highland Square Neighborhood Association members Katie Carver Reed and Jon Morschl say they’re excited to see the event take place in-person.

A map of the 2021 PorchRokr festival footprint in Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood.

“Times are different now,” Carver Reed says, “so we’re trying to go back to the way things were a little bit and bring the music back into the neighborhood — and bring people back into the neighborhood too.”

In 2019, Morschl says the festival had more performers on the bill than ever before. This year, he says performer submissions far surpassed that record.

From returning crowd favorites like Indré, Detention, Samantha Grace and Hayden Gilbert and The Ruckus, to a handful of exciting newcomers, Carver Reed and Morschl say the festival will host more than 100 performers throughout the day, along with 6 food trucks and more than 50 local vendors selling handmade jewelry, art, clothing and other artisanal items.

The festival’s beer garden will also return, provided this year by Cleveland-based Platform Beer Company.

In a move to make the festival more accessible, organizers have secured an accessible van that will provide free transportation within the festival footprint throughout the day.

Carver Reed says organizers have also partnered with METRO to offer free rides to and from the festival, and secured refillable water-bottle stations to help limit plastic waste during the event.

Every year, organizers rotate the location of the festival between each of Highland Square’s quadrants in hopes of encouraging attendees to explore and enjoy parts of the neighborhood they may be less familiar with. 

“You see these huge houses with big porches highlighted,” Carver Reed says. “[But] there’s charm on all of the streets in the neighborhood.”

After a year of loss and isolation for many Akronites, PorchRokr Music and Art Festival is much anticipated.

“To see people who may not have otherwise walked down that street, or may not have otherwise spent time with one another, building friendships and spending time getting to know people [who are] different from them,” Carver Reed adds. “I think [that’s] something really special.”

For more information on parking, transportation, vendors and performance times and locations, visit www.facebook.com/porchrokr

H.L. Comeriato covers public health at The Devil Strip via Report for America. Reach them at HL@thedevilstrip.com

Photo: Jarett Theberge

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