It’s nearly time for PIFA to go with massive street fair in Philly

The finale of the monthlong Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts will unfold Saturday along Chestnut Street. The stretch of Broad from Chestnut to South will be closed to traffic to make room for a street fair.

Two years ago, when the first PIFA closed with a street fair, organizers were surprised by the enormous turnout: about 200,000 people showed up on the near-perfect day.

PIFA will try to duplicate that phenomenon. A Ferris wheel once again will be installed in the middle of Broad Street, along with a swaying Spanish galleon carnival ride, and a dinosaur petting zoo with a life-size, animated Tyrannosaurus Rex in its own blocklong sandbox. Small green parks will be created in the street, and obstacles courses will be made for adults and for children.

“There’s going to be a lot of ways to interact physically with the space,” said festival director Jay Wahl. “You get to sit in the grass, you get to ride a Ferris wheel, you get to swoosh through the air on a boat.”

This iteration of PIFA, the second, has been about time travel, wherein artists, musicians and performers have created works related to a specific time or the imagined ability to move through time at will. The street fair continues that theme with live music spanning genres and centuries, performing medieval knights, a vintage DeLorean car (“What is time travel without a DeLorean, right?” said Wahl) and post-apocalyptic stilt walkers.

“Time travel is all about this personal journey you take — to your past, to your future, through human history,” said Wahl. “Think of the arts as our guide on that journey. The arts are what tell our stories, the arts help us imagine what’s coming in our world.”

The free, public event will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday. While there is no admission price to the street fair, several individual attractions will charge a $5 to $10 ticket price.

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