Pittsburghers love food. And we love festivals. So it’s only natural that we’d combine two of our favorite things and invite everyone to join us.
Picklesburgh, a festival honoring everything brined, takes place in late July on the Roberto Clemente Bridge and features not only the city’s favorite Heinz products (because you know the company got its start here), but also international dishes, artisan cocktails and unique farm-to-table offerings.
Now in its third year, the free event has offerings that everyone can relish (see what I did there?), from pepper jam to Peter’s Pickled Pepper Burger, to vegan pickle pizza and peanut butter pickled cookies. In addition to a wide variety of food and drinks, there are also pickle-themed clothes, drink coasters and Christmas ornaments, as well as a Lil Gherkins activity area for kids. Live music will take place both days and the event is hard to miss; just look for the massive pickle balloon above the river downtown to find your way to this celebration.
In September, Kennywood Park (another ‘Burgh tradition) hosts the Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, which last year attracted 7,000 people. More than two dozen chefs and restaurants will be making these delicious dumplings, and highlights of the event include Paint Your Own Pierogi and a meet-and-greet with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Pierogi! In addition to a pop-up pierogi marketplace, there will be live music, an open beer garden and even the chance to ride some classic Kennywood attractions like the Thunderbolt, Jackrabbit and Racer rollercoasters. A word to the wise: ride first, eat later.
More than 8,000 people visited Pittsburgh VegFest last year, which will take place on Pittsburgh’s North Side this year on Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to amazing meatless options provided by area restaurants, the free outdoor summer festival includes cooking and food demonstrations, yoga, wellness information, kids’ activities and more. Now in its third year, pets are welcome at this animal-advocacy centered event, which was named Best Food Festival by the Pittsburgh City Paper in 2016.
Less about eating and more about helping, the Red, Ripe and Roasted Tomato & Garlic Festival at Phipps Conservatory rewards gardeners for giving away excess produce. Now in its 13th year, the festival collects produce to donate to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and those who give a bag (from their own garden or purchased on-site) get free admission to the conservatory’s current show and its Butterfly Forest. Activities during the day include cooking demonstrations and tastings, and contests to award the biggest, smallest and ugliest tomatoes.
And just in time for the holidays, the Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour during the first week of December gives participants a chance to visit more than 30 Lawrenceville businesses to taste homemade cookies (store-bought is pure blasphemy) made from recipes handed down through generations while shopping for gifts. Celebrating its 20th year in 2017, the free, family-friendly event is a neighborhood tradition, and guests can enjoy bargains while grazing their way along the roughly mile-and-a-half route, which is marked by large gingerbread cookie signs.
If you’re into food and festivals, Pittsburgh is the place to be. Just don’t forget to loosen your belt.
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Freelance writer. Road tripper. Travel diva. Dog rescuer. Writes for food or kibbles and bits. Based out of Pittsburgh, PA, via Juneau, AK, Vanessa has been a freelance writer for more than 25 years, and has been published in many diverse publications,including GEEK, Recreation News, CATS, VFW magazine, the Antique Trader and more. An avid traveler, she always brings home amazing memories...and often more dogs. Follow Vanessa on her blog, Mood Swings and Other Things, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
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