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Plumfest-Free Annual Music Festival on Plum Island

By Caitlin Dowling, Newburyport.com Correspondent
Caitlin is a freelance editor/writer and former news producer for CNN. As a local mom of three, her family can be found enjoying all Newburyport has to offer, from strolling downtown to biking the rail trail to swimming at the beach.
Plumfest, Newburyport

Plumfest, a free annual music festival on Plum Island,  returns for its fifth year on Saturday, May 18th from noon to 6 pm. Transforming local porches on the island into stages for small concerts, Plumfest is a grassroots operation completely run by volunteers, from hosts to musicians to organizers.

An early participant in the “porch-fest” movement, Plumfest relies on local residents on the island to share their yards, porches, and parking lots with local musicians so they can perform for visitors. Growing in numbers each year, the music festival now features close to 100 performers at more than 40 locations, including local island businesses like Mad Martha’s, Beachcoma, The Cottage, and The Plum Island Grille.

So what’s the best way to experience this popular music festival? Organizers urge attendees to skip cars and to walk, ride bikes, and bring strollers. For non-island residents, free parking will be available at the airport as well as paid parking on the island. Plumfest will have circling shuttles you can hop on and off of all day to visit different venues and to get to and from your car.

Expect a huge range in music, from full bands to acoustic performances, from bluegrass to classic rock to rap. Performances are scattered all over the island with hot spots like Northern Boulevard, Southern Boulevard on the South End, and Old Point Road.  You can plan ahead by going online to see the full list of performers as well as a map of locations or just ride the shuttle and hop off when you hear something you like. 

While there will be a few food trucks out and about, organizers hope that visitors will give back to the community by popping into local establishments to grab some food or a drink. And if you love a band, purchase a t-shirt or book them for your next event!

Each year Plumfest picks a cause to raise money for. While the festival is entirely free, red buckets are set up at the performers’ locations to collect donations. This year, funds will go to the Friends of Newburyport Youth Services, a non-profit organization that provides fundraising and advocacy in support of NYS programs and services. Over the past four years, Plumfest has donated $25,000 to various causes.

For more fun happenings in Newburyport, be sure to check out our full events calendar!

 

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