Thousands expected to throng Broad Street as fair closes Philly festival of arts

Revelers enjoy a previous PIFA street fair.(Image courtesy of the Kimmel Center)

Revelers enjoy a previous PIFA street fair.(Image courtesy of the Kimmel Center)

A portion of South Broad Street in Philadelphia will close to traffic at 7 Friday evening to accommodate preparations for a street fair set for Saturday outside the Kimmel Center.

The section of Broad Street between Chestnut and South Street — including cross streets — will be closed to motorists all day Saturday as the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts concludes with the massive fair.

The asphalt will be outfitted to resemble a park with rolled-out grass, a beach with sandboxes, and include a mountainous 20-foot waterfall and koi pond.

PIFA artistic director Jay Wahl has also programmed the street vertically, including a Ferris wheel and a zip line over Broad Street.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“We really love being able to transform the street into the park, and have people think differently about the space by behaving differently with each other,” said Wahl. “When you cross the street later in the year, you can say, ‘My god, I sat there with my girlfriend or grandmother and we shared a sandwich.'”

The free event will bring back favorite performers from fairs past, including the Living Vines — people dressed as foliage on stilts — and the Golden Mantis dancers elaborately decorated as bugs.

This will be the third time since 2011 that PIFA takes over the Broad Street corridor; on previous occasions, it was considered a success with tens of thousands of people visiting the pedestrian-only event during the course of the day.

This year’s event on Saturday could bring as many as 100,000 visitors downtown.

Broad Street will reopen to motorists at 3 a.m. Sunday.

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal