by Jarett Theberge

Akron’s summer neighborhood festival PorchRokr is coming back to Highland Square for the eighth time with more bands, food, and activities than ever before. 

The daylong music and arts festival will be held on Aug. 17 as another effort by volunteers, sponsors and the community to put Highland Square “on the map”, says Christian Odadzin, member of the planning committee for PorchRokr. 

Christian has been involved since the second festival and has seen PorchRokr grow in popularity over the years. He says exact attendance is hard to gauge since they don’t sell tickets, but that the Akron Police Department estimates 12,000 to 15,000 people will be in Highland Square on Aug. 17. 

For returning or new guests, there will be new activities to take part in the peripherals of the live music. The day will kick off with a yoga session near Red Oak Behavioral Health and the return of the PorchRokr 5K run starting at Conger Avenue just off West Market Street. There will be an inaugural kid’s zone for children to play and spend time on Marshall Avenue while their parents visit beer vendors. 

PorchRokr also picked up a new sponsor in JBL, which is the first company outside of local businesses to support and fund the day.

A consistent goal for the organizers is to reduce the waste generated by the festival. This year, there will be a water fill-up station brought by Donamarc Water Systems to encourage patrons to reuse water bottles instead of throwing them away. The beer garden will be serving guests with compostable cups, and all compostable material will be taken to the Akron Zoo to be reused. 

Another aspect that will make this PorchRokr different from all the rest will be the festival’s first instrumental headliner, The Admirables. Despite not having a lead singer, Christian says “they get crowds absolutely jumping.”

Every year, the festival sees an increase in the number of musical acts submitting applications to play. Christian says this year the performance committee received over 300 submissions including from bands located in California, Colorado and New York. Only 170 acts make the cut. 

“Our performance committee hand their hands full this year,” he says. “They listened to everybody that submitted music as a group, then they dwindled the acts down. It’s a daunting task.” 

Christian has been living in Highland Square for the past three and a half years and says he loves being a part of the community and helping to put the festival together. 

“PorchRokr is just one of the reasons why I love the neighborhood,” he says. “The people who let us their houses and yards and the business who help write checks to support the day — it truly is a very special community.” 

For a more detailed list of bands, times, activities, vendors, locations, and sponsors, be sure to regularly check the PorchRokr website up to the day of the festival. 

Jarett Theberge is a student at Kent State University. Photo at top: PorchRokr 2018, by Ashley Kouri.

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