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May 18, 2023

Boozy spelling bees and an Italian market festival: Your weekend guide to things to do in Philly

Eat street meat, watch indie movies or climb a greased pole this Friday through Sunday

Weekend Things To Do
italian market.jpg Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

The annual Italian Market Festival returns to Ninth Street this Saturday and Sunday.

You did your civic duty earlier this week by voting in Philly's municipal elections, but now it's time to party.

This mid-May weekend promises tons of outdoor fests, including annual favorites like the Italian Market Festival and Made on American Street Festival. You can also plant flowers in your local park or head inside for an adult spelling competition in Old City. Here's your weekend guide:

Eat pasta, climb a greased pole at the Italian Market Festival

Every year, the Italian Market Festival takes over Ninth Street with pounds of pork, pasta and pastries from local vendors. The food fest returns again this Saturday through Sunday with a special musical tribute to Jerry Blavat, the legendary Philly DJ who passed in January. In between snacking and grooving to the tunes, visitors can compete in cornball and halfball tournaments, as well as a greased pole climbing competition.

Compete in an adult spelling bee 

This Sunday, an Old City bottle shop will host a spelling bee for grown-ups — shots of whiskey included. The competition kicks off at 5 p.m. at Art in the Age, with proceeds benefitting the nonprofit Education Works. All contestants will wear provided dunce caps during the "boozy bee," which offers competitors a complimentary shot, but only the champion will claim a bottle of Dunce Whiskey, a trophy and a free round of cocktails.

Watch indie documentaries and shorts

Spend a day (or two) at the movies at the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. Through Saturday, the fest will screen indie documentaries, music videos, dramas and a whole bunch of shorts — comedic, experimental and animated. Tickets are $15 at the door. Locations vary but include the Purple Light Lounge in Northern Liberties and Lightbox Film Center at the University of the Arts.

Help beautify your park

Calling all Philadelphians with green thumbs: your parks need you. This weekend marks the end of Love Your Park Week, a series of city-hosted events at 94 green spaces across Philly. Volunteers will pull weeds, plant flowers, collect trash and scrub graffiti to prep the parks for the summer season. Make sure to register before you go.

Hit more street festivals in Kensington and Roxborough

The Italian Market Festival isn't the only street fair in town. Two more outdoor festivals arrive this Saturday, bringing food trucks and shopping to their respective neighborhoods. 

From 12 to 6 p.m., the Roxborough Spring Fest will offer tons of activities for the artsy crowd, including craft vendors, pottery, glassblowing demos and a student art showcase. The Made on American Street Festival, meanwhile, is a Kensington craft beer hot spot. Over two dozen local vendors will hand out samples of their brews (or wine or liquor) along American Street from 2 through 6 p.m. Both fests will also have plenty of food on hand, along with live music and shopping.

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