Circus makes its way to South Street for fall festival

The third annual Pumpkin Fall Festival was held in Society Hill.

The South Street Headhouse District and PHAIR hosted the Pumpkin Fall Festival. Erin Patterson | TTN
The South Street Headhouse District and PHAIR hosted the Pumpkin Fall Festival. Erin Patterson | TTN

Hay littered the ground and drifted in the air on the cobblestone street in Society Hill.

On Oct. 25, Headhouse Square hosted the third annual Pumpkin Fall Festival that brought business owners and community members together for a day of crafts, circus performers, vendors and carriage rides.

PHAIR, Philly’s open air market partnered with South Street Headhouse District this year to be what Mike Harris, director of the district considers to be, “a celebration of fall and an opportunity to represent local businesses.”

The event featured performances from many local groups in the area and a number of South Street restaurants offering special deals and plates.

“A lot of people see the shambles, and think they’re cool,” said Steven Taytelbaum, a senior broadcast major and intern with the South Street Headhouse District. “But when you put on live events like this, you bring the community together and help promote South Street.”

Taytelbaum began working for the business improvement district in June and has had a hand in pulling off events like the Dog Days of Summer, a hot dog contest between restaurants in July and Fashion under the Shambles, a show for local boutiques this past September.

Taytelbaum said his internship was a way to explore Philly, after only having been to South Street once in his three years at Temple.

Mike Harris has been the executive director of the district for two and a half years, and said it takes about a month of planning to pull off an event that attracts and will appease all ages and types of people.

Harris said that when he joined the district, the festival was “basically a petting zoo for kids.”

“We found out that for the same price as the zoo, we could get a circus,” Harris said. “And we have been building on that success now for the third year in a row.

Small business owners from all different neighborhoods participated in PHAIR Saturday, like Sherri Hall, creator of, a website retailing clothing and accessories who has set up shop at 56 events like the Pumpkin Fall Festival this year.

“At least 90 percent of our sales are made at events like these,” Hall said of her online boutique. “People need to see and feel the clothing.”

Jamie Wickersham said she gained similar exposure for her custom jewelry company, JW Designs and has been a PHAIR vendor for five years.

“I used recycled things – pieces from the ‘40s and ‘50s to make new things, and markets are ideal for people who want pieces like this,” Wickersham said.

Food and craft vendors set up at 9 a.m., Harris said. This was work that he said wouldn’t get done without the interns.

“I get to plan, interact with local businesses and develop relationships with them,” Taytelbaum said, “and then people get to come and enjoy it.”

Taytelbaum also got to reach out to the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, a group that performed two shows throughout the day from faculty and students.

Currently, the district is proposing construction changes to the square as traffic concerns become more of an issue during events that draw many attendees.

Next weekend, the district is hosting a return of the day of the dead festival, which has had a 10-year hiatus from the event schedule.

“The more we hold these festivals and events, the more people will come and get to experience what South Street has to offer,” Harris said.

“South Street is definitely in a renaissance,” Taytelbaum said.

Paige Gross can be reached at and on twitter @By_paigegross

*Editor’s note: Changes to this article were made on Nov. 2. The Pumpkin Fall Festival was held in Society Hill, not Old City. 

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