Porchfest celebrated the beauty of community

Published 2:29 pm Wednesday, October 30, 2019

There was once a time when people knew their neighbors.

They would get together for dinners, barbecues and other activities as a way to strengthen the bonds that allowed people to watch out for each other and their children; to develop and maintain a sense of community.

But that sense of community has, for the most part, disappeared as society became more mobile and families moved more than they had in the past. In many areas, communities no longer became neighborhoods but rather a collection of buildings occupied by people who found that isolationism was a good practice.

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That’s why it was so refreshing to go visit Porchfest last Saturday. As I walked along Drummond Street in the Fostoria neighborhood, I was watching a neighborhood coming alive and inviting people from other areas of town and the state to come share the atmosphere of the historic neighborhood.

Musicians performed from porches of homes to serenade visitors. Craft and food booths set up along the street had plenty of customers. People taking in the event met friends and neighbors as they walked among the crowd and booths. This was a true sense of community; a true neighborhood.

I’ve spent most of my career working for small-town newspapers, and the one thing I’ve found interesting is that many areas in towns are a lot like Fostoria, the people living in the subdivisions have that sense of neighborhood; people know their neighbors and they watch out for each other. When I go back to Baton Rouge for a visit, I’ve noticed that sense of neighborhood is gone from some of the areas where I grew up, and some of the new subdivisions being built seem more like fortresses than neighborhoods.

I miss the city of my youth where everyone knew everyone else, where your neighbors greeted you.

That’s what made Porchfest refreshing; it was a reminder that some areas haven’t been affected by society’s changes and the residents are willing to invite others to their party to enjoy music and the experience of strolling among the neighbors and seeing some beautiful homes.

I’m putting Porchfest on my list to visit next year, just as I have the Mardi Gras parade, gumbo cook-off and the Old Courthouse Museum Flea Market — three other very good community events. And all four are events that make Vicksburg unique.

My hat is off to the homeowners in Fostoria for their efforts to bring the community together and providing an enjoyable diversion from the problems of the world. I hope Porchfest continues to be an event that not just the neighborhood but the rest of the city can get behind.


John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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