Friday, August 9, 2013

Festivals! (and How They Can Be Good For N-Town)

Italian fried pizza
Another thing that makes Norristown special? Our cultural festivals. And we've got 4 coming up within the next month.

This weekend is, I must admit, my favorite--the Festa Italiana at Holy Saviour Club, across East Main St. from Holy Saviour Church (near the intersection of Walnut). It begins tonight at 5 pm, and continues through the weekend (Sat starting at 4 pm, Sun at 11 am). Lots of kids' games, face painting and a moon bounce. Learn to play bocce. Live entertainment at night. I always go for the food. Yummy roast pork sandwiches (they usually have roast beef and grilled sausage and peppers, too), fried pizza (pizza dough, deep fried and coated with sugar--Italian donuts..mmm), tomato pie, veal scallopini and, if you're brave enough, tripe. Draft beer, wine, soft drinks and the BEST draft birch beer. So grab a meal there this weekend. Park in Holy Saviour's lot, walk across the street and down the driveway to the parking lot behind the club.

Next Sunday afternoon and evening, starting about 1 pm, August 18th, Holy Saviour's MSS Club will hold what I think of as their Sicilian festival in the old Holy Saviour school cafeteria (on Airy, around the corner from Walnut). Similar foods -- compare the pork sandwiches and fried pizza. The street processions for both these festivals are something to see. They start around 12:30 this Sunday and next in front of Holy Saviour.

On the weekend of August 24-25, St. Patrick Church (Dekalb and Chestnut) holds its Irish Festival. I went last year, loved it and will definitely be there again. Saturday night from 6 to 11:30 is Irish Pub Night. Music, beer and good food (beef, ham, corned beef and cabbage, and sandwiches, and all kinds of desserts). Sunday from 1-6 pm. Festival takes place in the church hall (enter on Dekalb or Chestnut -- follow the signs).

Also at St. Pat's on Sunday, September 8th, 1-6 pm, will be the Fiesta for Mexican Independence Day in the church parking lot. Great Mexican food, music, folk dancing, folklore.

In May of each year, the Greater Norristown Hispanic Business Association sponsors the International Festival - a huge block party on West Marshall. Lots of hispanic food, music and vendors. I'll mention this again and give you particulars next spring.

On a smaller scale, you can find Pennsylvania German goodies at some of our local church bazaars this fall. For instance, go to Christ United Church of Christ at W. Marshall and Noble Sts in November, if you like chicken corn soup, shoo-fly pie and homemade chocolates (will also mention details in the fall).  Not sure if we have a big enough PA Dutch population anymore to make it feasible, but I'd love to see an Oktoberfest in Norristown sometime to celebrate that part of Norristown's heritage.

Another festival I think we could kick butt at would be one for African-American culture. Upper Merion has a half day Black History celebration in Feb each year, with history talks, drumming and dancing demos, and soul food, and it's really good, but I think we could do better. I KNOW we've got amazing soul food in Norristown--I've been to church suppers, not to mention our pros, like Zachary's, Willis Barbecue and Diva's Kitchen. Might be something to think about, maybe in conjunction with Arts Hill for their Juneteenth celebration.

Festivals can bring visitors and good vibes for Norristown, a chance for folks to experience our town and our people, and a chance for Norristown to come together to party (which we need more of). If you know of any other cultural fests in town, leave a comment here, or on my Facebook page, and I'll add it below. Let's get the word out.

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