I see all sorts of shining reviews about what a great chowhound experience Gloucester's St. Pete's Fest is. The reality, however, is that all these great events are for insiders and held in churches, community centers, etc. For the visiting unwashed (such as myself), it is one of the worst Italian festivals
around. The "food" available is chili dogs, pizza, and fried dough; the entire event is run by some carnie company. While some beach events (GREASED POLE!) make it worth the ride, don't expect to find the slightest bit of Italian food at this thing. The desperate (such as myself) go up a block, where 2 or 3 restaurants are serving pizza slices and rice balls on the sidewalk.
Scrumptious, to be sure, but you can get them anytime. Harldy "festival" fare.
Italian festival in Lawrence is by far the best one I attend each summer. East Boston comes second. North End is okay, but has lesser music and higher prices. St. Pete's doesn't even make the list. I made the mistake of going last year; I will never go again. Unless someone can teach me how to get "in" on the good stuff (short of moving to Gloucester, joining a church, and establishing myself as a "local").
NOTE: This is not to bash Gloucester's festivals in general. They have a very nice "Fisherman Fest" later in the summer. Real vendors, real food,
real people...and no tilt-a-whirls!