After the rodeo, fiesta is Porchstock 2023


Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld and I have a love-hate relationship.
We’ve squawked at each other over philosophy, principal, prose, and polls. And what actually constitutes a legitimate closed session.
We leave attorneys out of it because they like to litigate and that’s a far cry from debate and a lot more expensive.
But on a beautiful pre-fall Friday I stepped away from a grant application to put this week’s Beside the Point together.
I’m heading to St. Louis this weekend for a couple Cardinals' games and the season-opener for the Hawkeyes at a place called Weber’s Front Row.
That’s nowhere near the sheriff’s porch in Donnellson. This a Hawkeye fan gathering place. The last one my brother and I went to was in Minneapolis and it is now a destination place for us.
Bar food, co-eds, and enough laughter to cramp up. I’m not exaggerating. I get my game face on in places like that and we usually walk back to our hotel. If you haven’t seen the video of me at Jack Doyle’s in New York City, a gathering place for Vikings fans in NYC, you don’t really understand my game face. Ryan Smith and Doug Frenz need to visit that place on any given Sunday in the fall.
But on this Friday, I’m staring at a blank screen and struggling to find something relevant to write about when my phone goes active and the name “Matt Mohrfeld” pops up. Fate.
I pick up. “Hey Mayor”.
“Chuck, what’s happenin’?”
“I’m staring at the blank screen. It’s got this flashing cursor and it’s just staring back at me. I’m trying to write Beside the Point and can’t get it going. There’s too much pressure, damnit!”
Anyone who knows the mayor knows his answer was to get up and get moving. When I do my miles, I think of Matt almost every time, because I don’t do 10 or 20 miles like he does. I do three at best, and then remind myself he would say this, “A mile’s a mile.”
He called to confirm he had turned in his papers to run for another term as Fort Madison’s mayor, but we digressed for a bit.
I asked him what this Porchstock thing is all about because I haven’t seen a press release or anything other than a few social media teasers. He had mentioned it at a recent City Council meeting.
I didn’t know this thing was right up my alley, figuratively and literally.
Stopping by someone’s house for a beer and some locally-produced music and food in a laid-back atmosphere, all within walking distance of each other…and my house!.. I’m in.
So here’s the deal with that, which follows our perennial Tri-State Rodeo and Mexican Fiesta events on Sept. 22.
There are about a dozen homeowners who are bringing bands and musical groups into their back yards, or onto their porches, or garages or wherever you can plug in a sound system or just go unplugged. Most of the gatherings will be at homes and more information on those details should be coming once we all rest up from the Rodeo and the Mexican Fiesta, but a few may be at local businesses.
The boundary is unofficially from about 6th to 12th streets and from Avenue D south through downtown. Mohrfeld said Tara Vincent, of Vinnie’s Longbranch, kind of just ran with the idea with the help of a committee.
He said it’s designed to not be overthought, and just a Midwestern type evening where everyone has a different flavor of music i.e. heavy metal, acoustic guitar, country, where some people might go to one place, or three, or try to hit them all.
The idea was stolen off something someone saw on Facebook and said why can’t we do this in Fort Madison? “We can do this in Fort Madison”, Mohrfeld said and the idea quickly turned to reality.
He said it really came about and spread virally until Vincent kind of took a leadership role.
“Lets find a couple people, find a couple dollars and we’ll do it,” Mohrfeld said. “Tara’s a go-getter and it just took on a life of its own.”
So you don’t have to wear tennis shoes, but you can. Sandals, Birkenstocks, or anything comfy are acceptable. Just make walking part of your plans and the only other thing you need, I guess, is laughter, a sense of humor, and conversation, and a free evening. Maybe we mow and edge our lawns, blow off the leaves, and enjoy a fall evening bee-bopping from one place to another and hanging out on a Friday night with a sense of responsibility and fellowship.
Sounds like a nice fall evening to compliment my favorite season of the year. I’ll be in Davenport covering the Hounds' football team that night, but I can’t wait to see the social media streams from the event. Americana right in Fort Madison.
And while we’re talking Americana, the 75th episode of the Tri-State Rodeo is ready to kick off and, from all the things we’ve heard, this could be the largest turnout in the history of the rodeo. So make the pre-rodeo and regular rodeo a part of your lives next week. It’s also part of Fort Madison’s history, but that’s Beside the Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

Porchstock, Fort Madison, 2023, Sept. 22, event, music, neighborhoods, Mayor Matt Mohrfeld, Pen City Current, festival, facebook, social media, Tara Vincent, Charles Vandenberg, Beside the POint, editorial, opinion,


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