Italian Market Festival returns – with a challenge to Eagles fans!

The South 9th Street Italian Market Festival returns this Saturday May 19th and Sunday May 20th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The event will fill 9th Street between Wharton and Fitzwater streets with family fun, fine food, outstanding crafts, live music, and Italian traditions like the Procession of Saints. This year’s festival also promises to help supply fresh vegetables to local schools, assist students struggling with dyslexia, and presents a challenge to diehard Eagles fans from South Philly and beyond!

Italian flags on sweet treats. Photo by the Italian Market Festival.

Pat’s King of Steaks, and its Spread the Whiz Foundation, is sponsoring the “Spread the Whiz Zone.” As festival executive director Michelle Gambino explains, “it’s all about teaching kids to give back to the community by playing with their food!” Children will be able to make their own cannoli to take home – if it makes it that far. Proceeds will fund a garden at a local school that will grow produce for use in the school’s cafeteria. The Zone will also feature a balloon artist, raffles and live entertainment. 

Climbing the greased pole. Photo by the Italian Market Festival.

One popular festival attraction prompted Gambino to issue a challenge to Eagles fans. Those who tried to shimmy up a street light on South Broad Street the night the Eagles won Super Bowl LII are invited to try their hand(s) at the festival’s Grease Pole Climbing Competition.  According to Gambino, “teams usually consists of 12 members and the last team to win was from South Philly so we’re hoping to hold on to our winning streak!” There are a plethora of prizes in store for winners.

On Saturday, the festival will host the 9th annual John Marzano Half Ball tournament. Sponsored by Anthony’s Italian Coffee House, this year’s tournament will benefit “Coffee for a Cause,” an effort to supply special text books to children with dyslexia.  Gambino explains, “This just seemed like a perfect fit since many famous baseball players have striven to overcome dyslexia.” The tournament also benefits the John Marzano Scout League

Gambino brushed aside weather forecasts for drizzle, “Hopefully we won’t have anything more than some overcast skies. Either way, our food tastes just as delicious, and our music sounds just as wonderful under the awnings of the 9th Street Market as they do out in the middle of the street!” 

For additional information go visit the festival’s website.

Pizza and seasoned bread. Photo by the Italian Market Festival.