THE RESTAURANTS and merchants of Rittenhouse Row are gathering again on Walnut Street this Saturday, and that means about 50,000 area residents and guests will be joining them for one of Center City's largest street fairs.
The Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival will close Walnut from Broad to 19th streets (from noon until 5 p.m.) and feature food, fashion, entertainment and fun for children.
It's big. It's crowded. It's fun. And this year there's a lot of new stuff.
* Dunkin' Donuts will be giving out free iced coffee on the 1400 block of Walnut. Beneficial Bank will be giving out free pretzels on the 1500 block.
* Giving food fans a break from all the delicious burgers and finger food will be Honeygrow and HipCityVeg, offering fare that's tasty and healthy. Foodies who are feeling a little full (or may want to make a last-ditch attempt to fit into a bathing suit) can also stop by the booths for Flywheel, Bodycycle, Sweat and Pure Barre.
* In the children's area, Born Yesterday will join The Children's Boutique, a festival perennial.
* The brand new A.Bar, at the corner of 18th and Walnut, will make its Center City debut. Elixir Coffee will also be at the Spring Fest for the first time. Other fest first-timers will be Vernick, Underdogs, Rotisseur and Pub & Kitchen. Ben & Jerry's ice cream is returning for the first time since the company closed its 18th street store.
* In front of Whisper, on Walnut's 1700 block, there will be an enclosed sidewalk cocktail lounge featuring Whisper, the Corner Foodery, G. Lounge and Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company.
* Not enough booze there? Still able to walk a straight line? Peroni Beer will be on the 1500 block, Lex Goliath Wines and the Pennsylvania LCB Wine Tasting Area on the 1600 block and a cocktail tasting area on the 1800 block.
* The Infiniti Lounge, on the 1500 Block, will feature Hope Cohen, author of Fast, Fresh + Simple and a sampling of one of her refreshing recipes.
* For the kids, on 18th Street between Walnut and Sansom, the Center City District Craft Pavilion will feature crafts and activities led by Arden Theatre Company, Please Touch Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Historic Philadelphia, Philadelphia Art Alliance, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Walnut Street Theatre, and Peter Nero and the Philly Pops. KYW Newsradio will again allow kids to create their own mock-radio interview newscasts.
* The Starr Culinary Demonstration Stage, at 19th and Walnut streets, will once again host live food-and-beverage demonstrations and feature balloon twister and storyteller Allyn Gordon. Drop off nonperishable food items or a monetary donation (10 cans, $10, or both) for Philabundance and you'll be entered to win one of three prizes from Starr Restaurants. Visit the Starr Smallwares Sidewalk Sale to purchase discounted china, glassware and tchotchkes from Starr Restaurants and support Philabundance.
* And even after all that, there will still be a dozen fashion booths and at least 35 more food stands serving affordable snacks.
It's rain or shine, but it's not expected to rain.