WARREN, Pa. – The concept behind Warren County Front Porch Days is a simple one – to spread neighborly cheer.
It’s about getting to know your fellow neighbors and connecting with one another – and the second annual event held this past weekend (Aug. 14-15) was a big hit.
Warren residents Gary Lester, Gary Candreia, Tom Schultz, Joe Whipp, and Doug Hearn were among those who came up with the concept, which all started with a trip to West Virginia about 25 years ago.
“We visited a folk festival at Davis & Elkins College,” Lester explained during Sunday’s Sing-A-Long at the First Lutheran Church. “Friday night we found ourselves in a really charming little chapel on campus and there was a Sing-A-Long.”
That Sing-A-Long was being led by the Bare Bones group.
“They sang about front porch news, and went on a monologue about how people don’t use their front porches enough,” Lester said. “They said that we really don’t know our neighbors, we’ve gotta get out on our front porches and move around a little bit. So we’re all looking at each other thinking that sounds like a Warren, PA kind of thing.”
They caught up with Bill Kimmons of Bare Bones the next day and he had quite the response.
“He said I made it all up on the spot,” Lester recalls. “We liked him and he said ‘great, I’m glad you’re talking.”
Twenty-five years later, Hearn was invited to sit on the porch of his neighbors, Pete and Marge Smith, and have a chat.
“I thought, that rings a bell,” Lester said. “We said, let’s do it, and that’s how it started.”
Lester tracked down Bill and Rebecca Kimmons, and they were the stars of the show during Sunday’s festivities at First Lutheran.
“I wouldn’t have known about this at all had Gary not contacted me,” Bill Kimmons said. “When he did, it warmed the cockles of my heart.”
The first Front Porch Days, held in 2020, was a small event due to COVID-19. But this year it expanded to include all of Warren County.