May 21, 2012

Italian Market Festival

Three years ago I moved from the Fairmount section of the city to South Philly (Bella Vista). I'd lived in Fairmount for 5 years and I was ready for a change and excited to experience another part of the city. I moved in the weekend of the Italian Market Festival, something I'd never attended, let alone heard of. I couldn't go on Saturday, because of the move, and awoke early on Sunday, eager to see what the event would be like.

And what an event it was! Everyone, everywhere dancing and singing, eating and drinking. It didn't matter the person's age, gender, or ethnicity. Everyone was having a great time. I was almost in tears with happiness over the great luck of having moved to such an amazing, vibrant area.

This past weekend marked the 9th annual Festival, which takes place on 9th Street between Fitzwater and Federal Streets. I went, and was reminded of that first experience 3 years ago. The street was packed with people having a great time. The weather cooperated beautifully, giving us festival-goers sunny skies and a light breeze to ensure we didn't get too hot.

A main focus at the Festival, is, of course, the food. And not just the pizza, pasta, and meatballs with gravy you'd expect to find at an event called the Italian Market Festival, although there was plenty of that to be had. In keeping with the diversity of the neighborhood, you could also find Mexican and Vietnamese vendors offering treats like sausage and peppers, grilled corn on the cob, cured meats, and more. There was no shortage of pastries and other delectable sweet treats, either.

No street festival is complete without music, and there was no reason to be disappointed here. Between the DJ set up at 9th and Christian, to the live bands that played at 9th and Washington, and the other DJ stage at 9th and Federal, no matter where your stroll took you, you were sure to be rockin'. The best part for me has always been seeing everyone dancing through the streets, especially as the day gets older and the beer takes hold (more on that in a minute).

As if food and music weren't enough, there were plenty of artists set up selling everything from jewelry, to prints, to paintings, to clothing.

Of course one of my favorite parts is the drinking. While many restaurants were selling limoncello shots and Peroni, 12 Steps Down appealed to me with their craft brew offerings, including Troegs Sunshine Pils and Bells Two Hearted. So much fun to be able to walk down the street, cup of beer in hand, along with hundreds of other people. Wish we could do it every day!

Although it's too late to enjoy the festivities this year, be sure to set your calendar for 2013. Given that it's the 10th anniversary, I'm sure they'll have something planned to make it an even more spectacular event than it already is.

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