Tired of listening to the same old music? Front Porch Fest, held at the picturesque Spirit Haven Farm in Stuart, Virginia, over Labor Day weekend, may be just the ticket. You’ll not only be exposed to some new tunes, you’ll also have the opportunity to support some great causes.
“Front Porch Fest is a great place to hear someone you have never heard of and leave with new music in your heart,” festival Executive Director Chris Prutting told me in 2015. “I’ve grown up with music and friends playing in bands. I love the bands no one has heard of. If you come to Front Porch Fest, you will leave with a whole new catalog of music. We’ve always prided ourselves on getting bands right before they make it.”
Among the acts lined up for Front Porch Fest set for Aug. 30 – Sept. 2 include Perpetual Groove, Zach Deputy, the Larry Keel Experience, Big Daddy Love, Annabelle’s Curse, the Couldn’t Be Happiers, Urban Soil, Slick Jr. & the Reactors, among others. A distinctive feature of this festival, which attracts a few thousand attendees, are its three stages with no overlapping sets so music lovers don’t have to miss a beat.
A decade ago, Front Porch Fest started out as a going away celebration made up of friends and family featuring live music. Located on the “front porch” of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Patrick County, Virginia, it has evolved into an event that aims to combat the deterioration of the area, says Prutting, who is also the executive director of the nonprofit One Family Production, which produces Front Porch Fest, and is a 501c3 charitable non profit with the mission of promoting and supporting community enrichment and growth.
The festival is 100 percent volunteer. Can’t afford to buy a ticket for the weekend? The festival is still looking for volunteers. If you are willing to donate 10 hours of your time, you can attend the festival for free. “If people are willing to help, we are willing to take their help,” Prutting says.
This grass roots festival that has grown each year started out as family reunion, according to Prutting. “Our slogan is come join the family,” he added. “It all started with me moving away and then I came back and we said let’s have a reunion and let’s turn this into something for the community. We are seeing an influx in attendance every year of tickets, artists and vendors.”
Front Porch Fest is family friendly and includes a Children’s Area that features arts and crafts. Children 12 and younger are free. Onsite camping is available and the Awareness Village provides information on different causes that are important to the area. Proceeds from the festival are donated to the Patrick County Food Bank, Caring Hearts Free Clinic and the Patrick County Skate Park.
“People come to Front Porch Fest to make relationships that carry on for the rest of their lives,” Prutting added. “That’s what music is, it’s a universal connector.”
where it goes down…
Spirithaven Farm is located on a 130 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Stuart, Virginia, just north of the North Carolina stateline and a short drive from the Triad.
For the Eutsler family, it is the realization of a dream. Spirithaven Farm is named for the knack it has of making its inhabitants feel at peace, according to the website.
Spirithaven is a working farm where several species of uncommon animals are raised; St. Croix sheep, Myotonic or “Tennessee Fainting” goats, blue-egg-laying Americana chickens, acrobatic Breslauer Tumbler and Birmingham Roller pigeons. Visitors to Spirithaven will also see horses and peafowl roaming the property along with their less-domesticated neighbors, White-tailed deer, turkey, bobcats and the occasional black bear. The Eustler family can’t help but share this land and the energy is emanates with like-minded folks. They sometimes offer workshops and retreats that emphasize Arts and Music.
“We are elated to be able to call Spirithaven Farm home to Front Porch Fest and emphatically thank the Eutslers for everything they do,” the website adds.