Festivals, Street Fairs, and Carnivals

PIFA Street Fair (Broad Street, 27Apr13)

What they say it is:

The Street Fair is the culminating event of the spectacular 31-day Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts. On April 27, 2013, the Kimmel Center will close Broad Street for an all-out extravaganza, capturing the magic and mystery of this year’s PIFA theme, “If You Had a Time Machine…”  Food vendors, artisans, and exhibitors will fill the street while Philadelphians are captivated and entertained by a wide variety of unique street performers, musicians, and family-friendly programming as the gates of time open up onto Broad Street.   FEATURING: Ferris Wheel, Spanish Galleon, Knights & Horses, T-Rex, French Welding Artists,  Obstacle Courses for Kids & Families,  Pop-Up Performances All Day, Food, Vendors, and Arts Organizations.

NEW Tara Says Graphic

It was a perfect, beautiful summer day for the PIFA street Fair! My loving husband and I got a sneak peak on Friday night as they were setting up on Broad Street.  My first glimpse of the preparations was green sod (used to make cozy circular seating areas) and a very large T-Rex.   Bright and early on Saturday morning, I started the PIFA chant . . . “lets go to PIFA, let’s go to PIFA, let’s go to PIFA!”

An easy trolley ride brought us to Center City where we were allowed to stroll right own the center of Broad Street.  Clay’s eyes lit up when the first thing he saw was a detail-perfect reproduction of the Delorean from Back to the Future.  He even had the opportunity to talk with the owner of said car and discuss some recent upgrades that had been added (hello, Mr. Fusion)!


Next, we came upon a living statue.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this type of performance, the show is typically a single artist dressed and painted in monochrome tones so as to resemble a statue.  The performer stands very still (again, statue-like) and will animate when you give them money or to surprise the passing audience.  PIFA’s living statue was accompanied by opera music and situated atop a marble fountain.  Her costume included water flowing from her fingertips and spouting from her hair.  The water features were exceptionally unique, as the flow of the water would change over time, and it was unclear if she had foot pedals controlling the flow, or if a hidden stage manager was involved.

statue pIFA

PIFA’s street fair – although appropriately artistic and ‘futuristic’ in keeping with its name- also included the old staples of a fair from my childhood . . . carnival rides and food trucks.  However, many of these food trucks were the fancier, more modern Philly style, including representatives of The Capital Grill and Loco Pez, as well as more traditional cotton candy and hot dogs.  As far as rides go, the galleon (aka the classic carnival Pirate Ship) made my stomach float up in a most pleasing way.

The festival was even visited by our famous Mayor Nutter . . . and we took advantage of his presence to tell him that while we’re in favor of awesome street festivals and libraries . . . we vote NO on Philadelphia’s petition to host the OLYMPICS!   (Perhaps Clay can offer more insight on this shared opinion . . . in short, we do not believe that it would generate revenue for the city, but actually would cost Philadelphia significant funds).  We then had the express guffaw as we watched the mayor kiss babies!   It’s not just in books, people—politics apparently does involve a lot of baby kissing . . .  creepy!  I do sincerely hope Mayor Nutter had as much fun at PIFA as we did (baby kissing aside), and continues to see the benefit of having such wonderful events.

Mr. Nutter was polite enough to listen to our views just before planting a few wet ones on some nearby infants.

Mr. Nutter was polite enough to listen to our views just before planting a few wet ones on some nearby infants.

Finally, my absolute favorite part of PIFA were the performers in the ‘compass park’ dressed as insects. There were a number of artists wearing colorful cricket, millipede, and praying mantis costumes.  These amazing outfits were  constructed of wicker and fabric, and were beautifully designed.  Their costumes and wandering performances were such a pleasure to see.  There were also ‘riders’ circulating through the crowd—these were performers, walking on stilts, who appeared to be “riding” wire-frame pterodactyl and insectile shapes. The actors were very skilled in manipulating the forms to make the animals appear alive, creating the illusion that they were riding these monsters through the crowd.

We ended this excellent afternoon with tasty drinks and food at the famous Monks Café.  Thanks for all the fun, Philly.

NEW Clay Says graphic ErnieI’ll be honest–I wasn’t expecting to expand our blog into the realm of street fairs and carnival reviews.  However, Tara apparently got ambitious when authoring her review of Future Fest and now here I am, blogging an informal outing.  Sidenote: if we continue down this road of reviewing everything we do and see in Philadelphia, my carpel tunnel issues are going to get far worse than they already are.

Street Fair: Tara is not kidding; along with her insane monologue-chant of “You’ve Got The Moves, Mick Jagger“, Saturday morning began with her repeated inquiry “Is it time?  When are we going to the PIFA festival?  When when when when when when?”  Not that I was particularly opposed–the day had been scheduled for re-leveling our patio (the sand that lies beneath our backyard tile washes away under winter, leading to an annual monotonous chore), so I was happy to push that particular duty back until Sunday (review blog forthcoming).

Here are some shots of the DeLorean from my old-timey telephone camera.

Here are some shots of the DeLorean, courtesy of my old-timey telephone camera.


As she mentioned, I was pumped to see a restored model of the Back to the Future DeLorean and speak with it’s owner (a cool guy who previously brought the car to the Too Many Games convention in 2011, and has since added the iconic Mr. Fusion to the rear section of the car).  As an aside, he also mentioned he’d recently completed a full restoration of the Ghostbusters Ghostmobile….seriously?!?!?! …..forcing me to conclude that this guy was DEFINITELY the coolest person at the PIFA festival, hands down.  The rest of the street festival was downhill from here–tell me, how does one TOP a time-traveling sportscar?–but I still managed to have fun.

Nice weather, a chance to stand around in the middle of Broad Street, and some facetime (first ever) with our current mayor.  Yeah…as Tara mentioned, we’d recently learned that Philadelphia’s leaders will bid to host the 2020 Olympics.  Thanks to Harry Shearer’s excellent Le Show podcast, I’ve been fully educated as to the Olympic’s status as a classic boondoggle.  Suffice it to say, Philadelphia is not in a financial position to spend millions of dollars on bringing a short-term sporting event to our city–an event that has been sold to other sucker cities around the world as a benevolent, profitable enterprise . . .  yet these events run exponentially over budget and socking taxpayers for the cost.  ANYWAY, as I told Mayor Nutter . . . “I vote yes on street fairs, and no on the Olympics”.  His joking response: “Well, one out of two isn’t bad!”

Broad Street in the springtime.

Broad Street in the springtime.

My blood sugar was acting somewhat crazy, and so I probably didn’t enjoy the rest of the festival as much as Tara (thank God for Loco Pez tacos to level me out).  However, giant insects on parade (bonus points: scaring little children), a hydro-equipped statue-lady-performer, and artsy dudes turning metal junk into art—I’m in favor of all these things.  Tara couldn’t stop talking about how much she loved those crazy colored insect people, so I was happy too.  When our friends Scooter and Rachel bumped into us by the Ferris Wheel, we turned around and wandered back through it all for a second look, and finished off our visit to PIFA with some classic film-buff debates (Ghostbusters Vs. Back to the Future, and Will There Be Blood vs. No Country For Old Men).

Winning: 3 PM lunch at the bar in the world famous (and personal favorite) Monk’s Cafe.  Their seitan cheese’steak’ is to die for, and those fries….oh those fries.  Be silent, my screaming arteries.



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