To kick off the summer season each year is the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival held downtown at the Point and Gateway Center. The Arts Fest showcases music, artists (both local and visitng), food, and our beautiful Golden Triangle. The festival stretches across ten days at the start of June, and although we traditionally get a lot of rain (which leads to a lot of sarcastic comments like, “Must be Arts Festival time again!” when we Yinzers look at the rain-filled weather forecasts), you do get a handful of perfect-weather days to enjoy the festival.
This year, by some miracle, we had more than our share of beautiful days. On June 3, a torrential downpour cleared just minutes before the incredible Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra took the stage for a performance of some classical and contemporary greats. I packed up my notebook and one of our DMB-lot chairs and got to enjoy some dog-watching and writing while listening to the PSO. A free symphony concert is a real treat!
The following weekend, after we returned from our trip to NYC, both of us headed down to enjoy a night at the Arts Festival. We started with a stop into one of our favorite downtown happy hour spots, Elements.
Then it was time to head over to the festival, which seems to have expanded over recent years. The Arts Fest features independent artist booths with art you can buy, and the majority of the booths are centered around this fountain in the Gateway Center plaza. The types of art range from paintings, to photographs, to sculptures, and jewelry. This year, I bought a beautiful fox painting from Eric Zawrotny. I definitely recommend checking his page out, even if you aren’t (like me) known to most of your friends as Fox 😉
We got to see, for the first time, some of the new statues they’ve put in around the downtown area. (This one made us laugh a bit. Good luck dude, this is Pittsburgh: you’ve got a better chance of finding a winning football team in Cleveland than an available cab in the ‘Burgh.)
And of course, no Pittsburgh outdoor festival is complete without the food vendors! Additional artists’ booths line one side of the circle of the old Fort Pitt, and the food trucks line the other, with the big stage set up at the top of the circle. You’ve got your standard fair food, like funnel cakes, chicken on a stick, and gyros, but also some other options, like an Italian food stand, and a hummus booth.
I got the hummus combo plate, and it was delicious. This came with a huge pita, and the salad dressing was delicious. I’ll always be a funnel cake girl at heart, but I was not about to turn down some yummy hummus!
While we were enjoying our snacks, we got to listen to the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an old-time folk band who we’d missed at the DMB Caravan last year. They were a lot of fun, mixing up their own songs with traditional banjo- and fiddle-based songs from the south.
The Arts Festival is sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The Trust is an organization we support very strongly, and we donate to them each year to keep awesome programs like this up and running! They also host the Downtown Gallery Crawls and most of the programming that goes on in the Cultural District, so they keep downtown hopping long after the offices close!
Since we’re an up-and-coming ‘green’ city, we had these uniquely designed trash and recycle cans located all around the festival. You can read more about the individual designs and artists here. Many of the artists used found art or recycled materials to create these receptacles.
And perhaps the best new we heard at the Arts Festival? My beloved Point State Park fountain will FINALLY be completely restored for next summer! (That’s what the sign behind us says, you just can’t exactly read it from the angle we took the picture. Oops!) Can’t WAIT for all the excessive fountain photos I will be taking at the Arts Festival and Regatta next year!
Thanks, Three Rivers Arts Festival, for yet another great year! Glad the rain held off enough for us to enjoy a great final weekend of art, music, and our lovely city!