The walkabout area of Historic Downtown Glendale offers two distinct neighborhoods, Catlin Court and Old Towne. In Catlin Court, an area known for its white picket fences and shade trees, homes from the 1800s and early and mid-1900s have been converted into shops. The Old Towne area is also distinctive, with its brick-trimmed walkways and gaslights.
During the 27th annual Front Porch Festival and Old Towne Marketplace on Saturday, Oct. 9, visitors can explore both historic neighborhoods, meet local business owners, watch artisan demonstrations, try seasonal menu items, take part in make-and-take activities, and shop for themed décor and gifts.
The shops will be decorated for fall, and Catlin Court stores will showcase items on front porches and lawns.
Chair Valerie Burner, owner of Bears & More, said, from the start, the event has been a communitywide effort designed to showcase what the area’s shops have to offer.
“The idea of the Front Porch Festival is to take an element of your business and take it outside,” Burner said. “It originally was Catlin Court way back in the day. We all took something of our shops, some sort of something, and took it outside so that we could interact with the customers in a completely different way.
“The customers could see a little peek at what went into the business. If we had the makers, we would invite them to come so that they could connect with that piece of jewelry, Teddy bear or piece of glass. It has grown from that. Now, Old Towne has joined. They don’t have porches, so it’s a little bit of a different feel. They really decorate for fall, and they still bring in artisans and makers.”
Burner said many shop owners are on-site to interact with guests.
“A lot of us are out there, manning the table, talking about our businesses, talking about whatever little craft it is that they are doing,” Burner said.
“It is a connection, and it is so important to have that connection to people these days with everything so online and digital. It is lovely to sit there and have a fun little conversation.”
Burner said events like the Front Porch Festival and Old Towne Marketplace allow patrons to collectively share something special.
“I think especially after the last year and a half, people want to be with people,” Burner said. “We were all holed up in our homes, not going out, not being able to do a lot of things. Especially now, just to hear that laughter that you hear from two doors down and see the smiling faces, it’s more than ever an important part of the community events.”
Throughout the day, many of the shops will have special sales and free gifts with purchase.
Activities and special menu items offered during the event include:
• Bears & More, 7146 N. 58th Drive, a pine cone gnome make-and-take.
• Pink House Boutique, 7009 N. 58th Avenue, a pumpkin ornament activity.
• Papa Ed’s Ice Cream, 7146 N. 58th Avenue, with every purchase, free Spooky Bites waffle cone chips shaped like bats, witches’ hats or ghosts; seasonal pumpkin pie ice cream and pumpkin cream soda floats and pumpkin spice waffle cone demos at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
• Memory Lane Trinkets and Treasures, 5836 W. Palmaire Avenue, a Kindness Rocks activity, Sissy Bees flavored hand pies, and artisan demos by Gina Burns and Denise Kartman.
• Haus Murphy’s, 5739 W. Glendale Avenue, a season apple strudel dessert.
• The Spicery in Our 1895 Home, 7141 N. 59th Avenue, pumpkin pancakes and cinnamon rolls for breakfast, a fall salad special for lunch, and pumpkin spice tea.
• Glendale Flowers and Gifts, 7163 N. 58th Drive, a $5 to $10 fall floral arrangement make-and-take.
Throughout the year, Historic Downtown Glendale shops participate in monthly events, including the Front Porch Festival and Old Towne Marketplace, which have become staples that attract people to the area.
“We want to make sure that we give people a reason to come to Glendale and that we give the people that come to Glendale great memories,” Burner said.
For these events, the local shop owners plan and hold these events, which often have a charity component.
Burner said the events inspire business owners to brainstorm new activities, menu items and decoration ideas.
“It pushes us to be creative and to think about what we can do that would be fun and engaging,” Burner said. “Because we are pushed creativity that way, then the people who come are excited to come. It makes, from a business owner’s standpoint, it exciting to come up with a new idea.”
The pandemic has been hard on shop and restaurant owners everywhere, and those in Historic Downtown Glendale haven’t been immune to that.
Burner said most Historic Downtown Glendale shops have survived the pandemic. A few shops have opened, moved locations or have new owners. The pandemic brought the shop owners together.
“We are all used to having to look at challenges in a different way. We are all owner-operators,” Burner said.
“We all have different business models. Because we are a community, we share. ‘This works for me, why don’t you try this?’ We can all work together to make sure that we all come out the other end. That’s the benefit of being in a really tight-knit small-business community. Each of us working hard to make sure that our other neighbors are still there, it works pretty well.
“It’s a wonderful, supportive, collective community. You want your neighbors to succeed because their success is your success. So, anything that we can do that will help somebody succeed, we’re all in for that.”
Front Porch Festival and Old Towne Marketplace
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9
WHERE: Shops throughout Old Towne and Catlin Court in Historic Downtown Glendale. Start at Arizona Information Center, 5836 W. Palmaire Avenue, Glendale