PORTLAND, Maine — An estimated 7,000 cookies, more than 300 sheets of pizza, and an assortment of other Italian dishes and delicacies are sure to please a crowd of thousands at this weekend’s 89th annual St. Peter’s Italian Bazaar, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16-17, at the corner of Federal and India streets in Portland.
The old-fashioned neighborhood street festival, a celebration of heritage, family, and faith, is held in the middle of August each year to commemorate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Feast of Saint Rocco.
The festival will begin officially with a 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday, celebrated by Bishop Robert P. Deeley, at St. Peter Church on 72 Federal Street. Following Mass, the bishop will lead a short procession in which the statues of Saint Rocco and the Blessed Mother are carried onto Federal Street.
The Bazaar, which raises money for St. Peter Parish, also features traditional carnival games, live music, and the famous ‘greased pole.’ The goal is to climb to the top of a metal flagpole which is covered in axle grease. Successful climbers who make it to the top of the pole receive $300, a scene which always draws amazed spectators.
More importantly, the event brings a proud community together, year after year.
“I graduated from Portland High School in 1954, and I see my old friends from school at the Bazaar every year,” said Josephine Dulac, a parishioner at St. Peter Church for nearly 80 years. “Some of those friends aren’t Italian, they aren’t parishioners, but they still come up from all over the country. Some plan their summer vacations around the Bazaar. It’s like a reunion for so many families and friends.”
“Walking around the Bazaar, chances are good you will meet people you have not seen for a while,” said Nancy Taliento-Goodwin, a parishioner at the church for six decades. “It’s a meeting place for many reunions. It is fun, you are happy, and the food is great!”
The 89th Annual St. Peter’s Italian Bazaar is open on Saturday, August 16, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday, August 17, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. However, all food will be available starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.