There's a slight fall nip in the air, making the weather perfect for spending time on the porch. Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce's 7th Annual Porches of Sumter revives the tradition of evenings on the porch, greeting and conversing with neighbors passing by. Often, the neighbors were invited up on the porch for iced tea or other refreshment.
On Thursday, several households in Sumter's historic district will extend that invitation once again between 6 and 9 p.m. Their homes surround Memorial Park and are within easy walking distance of each other.
Nicole Bailey, vice president of operations for the Chamber, said Porches will be similar to past years, with just a few changes.
"In an attempt at continued improvement of the event ... we have moved to a new ticketing system that utilizes QR codes (machine readable optical codes), and we hope this will speed up the check-in process.
"We will also be giving out wine cups similar to the way (Sumter Senior Services does) at Sip and Stroll. This will give us a chance to recognize our wine sponsor, Mac's Place spirits. We will also have volunteers stationed at most of the houses to assist with checking for wrist bands and serving drinks. We hope that will take some of the burden off of the homeowners and caterers."
"We're excited to have some new folks joining us this year," she said. "Rick and Christi Brownlow will be serving from their own porch this year. In the past, Christi & Co. has been located elsewhere in the neighborhood. We also have Catering for All Occasions back after a several years' hiatus, and the Cut Rate will be joining us for the first time as well as the new food truck, With These Hands."
Porches of Sumter is so popular, it regularly sells out, and some latecomers cannot join the tour, but Bailey said the Chamber has planned for a larger crowd this year.
" ... we have a maximum of 500 tickets, and we are over halfway sold out. We have never sold this many tickets a week before the event, so everyone truly needs to purchase tickets as soon as possible if they want to attend," she said. "I do not anticipate having tickets available at the door."
Bailey said FTC is again serving as presenting sponsor, and parking and check in will be at Grace Baptist Church. The Front Porch Junkies will also return and will play at Curtis and Croft Law Firm, just up Calhoun Street from the church.
Tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door, if available.
"We have also partnered with the Sumter Opera House to offer a 'perfect date night' package," Bailey said. "Their opening show, Artrageous, is also on the 5th. So we have created a package deal where folks can purchase a ticket to Porches to come out and join us for a while, then head over to the Opera House for the 7:30 p.m. show. The package price is $50, a savings of $10, if tickets to the events are purchased individually. Tickets for Porches of Sumter or for the 'Perfect Date Night' package deal are available online at Sumterchamber.com or in person at the Chamber," 32 E. Calhoun St. Call (803) 775-1231 for information.