Jammin’ on the Porch, the popular Bluegrass concert series sponsored by Berea Tourism, drew 2,271 spectators in 2019. What may be surprising is that most of those visitors were from out of town, according to a recent report by Berea Tourism.
The report states that for 2019, 1,309 concert attendees were not from Berea, while 962 were local. Jammin’ on the Porch concerts are free and are offered every Thursday evening. The highest attendance is typically during the summer-early fall months. During June through October, for example, total monthly attendance averaged 227 spectators, according to the report.
The event began 16 years ago, founded by local Bluegrass musicians Lewis and Donna Lamb and then-Berea Tourism Director Belle Jackson. The concert series premiered on the porch of the Shifflet Cabin on Artisan Green in Old Town, but most often performances now take place at the Russel Acton Folk Center on Jefferson Street. What has evolved over the years is a core group of local music fans and musicians who attend faithfully, and in doing so, support an event that draws tourists who want to hear authentic Bluegrass music.
“We have a lot of local people who enjoy it, but it also gives our visitors something to do,” said Berea Tourism Director Kerri Hensley. “We have very dedicated locals who have attended every week, and the concerts have continued to be successful, and we hope they will be successful for many years to come.”
One reason Jammin’ on the Porch may be drawing out-of-town visitors is that local hotels are informing guests of tourism events in town. Hensley said many of the hotels keep up-to-date on the city’s tourism calendar, then encourage visitors to take part. “Our hotels are a great partner,” Hensley said, adding that visitors also learn about Berea’s cultural offerings through the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, the Berea Welcome Center, as well as Berea Tourism’s website, www.visitberea.com.
Earlier this month, the Kentucky Department of Tourism announced that 2020 is designated as Kentucky’s Year of Music, a fact prominently highlighted in the Kentucky Official Visitor’s Guide of 2020, a publication with a circulation of 400,000, where Berea is prominently featured. Hensley said the designation offers the chance to highlight just another facet of Berea’s rich Appalachian talent. “I’m very excited about it,” Hensley said. “Because music is going to be showcased in 2020, it will be a great way for Berea to get more exposure for our amazing local talent.”
City of Berea