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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista 

What are all those liquor license apps around Italian Market? Ah, a huge festival

We noticed recently that a liquor license application asking for outside seating appeared outside 12 Steps Down at 9th and Christian. Before we knew it, those signs were popping up like dandelions in a meadow: Connie’s Ric Rac, Teri’s, Villa Di Roma, Anastasi Seafood…

Connie's Ric Rac and the telling orange application

Connie’s Ric Rac and the telling orange application

No, outside patios aren’t flourishing. Those orange placards were signs that the Italian Market Festival is coming.

This Saturday and Sunday, Philly’s preeminent Italian hotbed is opening its doors to the city. During the two-day event, 9th Street’s shops and restaurants will turn the iconic area into a giant block party, free to everyone looking for a little Mediterranean fun – or, apparently, plenty of booze.

If you plan on heading down Saturday, set aside a few hours for the bustling festival. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., you can mangia your face off at booths set up by the Market’s delis and restaurants and jam to free music courtesy of WGMK, which is sponsoring five stages along 9th and broadcasting live from the festival on 9th and Catherine. Also expect wares of more than 60 vendors at the event’s Fine Arts Craft Show.

Last year's festival from organizers' website

Last year’s festival from organizers’ website

Swing by on Sunday for the annual Procession of Saints, organized by St. Paul Parish, or watch local celebrities, including sports journalists Mike Kern, Ed Barkowitz and Angelo Cataldi, take a swing at the festival’s halfball (think stick ball with the Spalding cut in half) tournament. For $125, you and your paesans can join in in the tournament, too.

And if you’re not in town in time for the festivities, you can watch them live via five area online streams.

Meanwhile, doesn’t it seem a little weird that you have to get a permit from the state just to serve booze during a street fair?

- Vinny Vella

UPDATE: The Italian Market visitors association also just released an iPhone app, by the way, and you can find it here.

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