With No. 1 ranking, 2019 Picklesburgh will be biggest yet
Picklesburgh is even more of a “big dill” this year.
The No. 1 specialty food festival in America as voted by a USA Today readers’ poll will have more of just about everything, said Russell Howard, vice president of special events for Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, which produces the event. It also is presented by Heinz.
The fifth annual Picklesburgh is July 26-28.
“We want the experience to be a good one for the people who attend the festival,” Howard says. “We’ve added picnic tables and high-top tables, and there will be a third bar. There needed to be more walking space on the (Roberto Clemente) Bridge, so we’ve streamlined the area to help with line management at the various vendors and extended the festival to the riverside lanes of Fort Duquesne Boulevard, between Stanwix and Seventh streets, in order to better accommodate the crowds. There will be more pickle juice-drinking contest preliminary rounds, and we will have five times the beer because we ran out of beer on the first day last year. We are also moving the stage.”
Despite getting a late start in the voting for the USA Today poll — there was a miscommunication via social media — the food festival still earned top honors.
“We had a call to action and Pittsburgh gave tremendous support,” Howard says. “We were thrilled to be nominated. The young festival in many ways is still evolving. It was a popular event but with the No. 1 ranking, it is getting even more attention. That is pretty exciting.”
He says with Pittsburgh being the City of Champions winning the “crown” for top specialty food festival is another important award for Pittsburgh. He says it helped that Picklesburgh is a hometown event versus some of the competition which were traveling and touring festivals.
Picklesburgh was chosen over fierce competition from multi-city touring festivals and festivals from cities such as Miami, Houston, Louisville and Baltimore.
Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, says “Pittsburgh has embraced Picklesburgh in so many ways — by turning out in incredible numbers, creating spectacular culinary creations, impressively drinking pickle juice at lightning speeds.”
This festival has attracted national attention that has included the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America” “Fox News,” “The Washington Post,” “Boston Globe” and “Travel + Leisure.”
Part of Pittsburgh
Picklesburgh is an outgrowth of the fabric of Heinz and its roots here, Howard says. He says they’ve made adjustments each year based on what works and what doesn’t from the year before. The event is popular, not only in Pittsburgh, but in outlying areas and other states, he says.
It is a “culinary and cultural celebration,” Howard says in part because it begins with the famous Heinz pickle which is showcased in a huge green balloon that floats above the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
More than pickles
The fun at Picklesburgh extends beyond the “dill-ectable” products and foods, according to a news release. Children can create their own souvenir arts and craft projects in the Li’l Gherkins KidsPlay area. Plus, more than 25 bands will perform on the Jim Shorkey Auto main stage, which is moving to Fort Duquesne Boulevard, with adjacent riverside seating, according to a release. There will also be pickle-themed merchandise such as apparel, accessories, jewelry and home decor.
The festival will crown a new Mayor of Picklesburgh in the fiercely fought Pickle Juice Drinking Contest, presented by Pittsburgh Pickle Co.
The contest requires drinking a quart of pickle juice fastest without spilling – and they must keep it down.
The winner will be named the next Mayor of Picklesburgh and walk away with a $500 grand prize. There will be twice as many preliminary rounds this year followed by the championship on July 28.
Advanced registration is encouraged.
If pickle juice isn’t your drink of choice, back this year is Wigle Whiskey’s Eau de Pickle whiskey, which won a 2019 National Innovation Award from the American Craft Spirits Association. There will also be more quantities of the limited edition pickle beers from Southern Tier Brewing and Great Lakes Brewing.
Here is a sampling of the offerings at Picklesburgh:
Beef Jerky Outlet – dill pickle-flavored prime rib jerky
Chocolate Moonshine Co. – gourmet fudge including dill pickle, peanut butter pickle swirl, pickle-back whiskey and spicy pickle flavors, plus Belgian chocolate covered pickles on a stick, candied pickles on a stick and candied pickle lollipops
Gosia’s Pierogies – family recipe dumplings that marry buttery mashed potatoes with swirls of dill pickle, sauerkraut and new this year, a pickle cheeseburger pierogi
Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop – locally brewed pickle soda, plus the first-ever chocolate covered pickle Oreo, pickle saltwater taffy and pickle cotton candy
Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream – Flavors include dill pickle, pickled strawberry-mascarpone and pickled peach pie
Patti’s Pastries – jumbo gourmet cupcakes featuring four pickled flavors
Spirit – wood-fired thin crust pizzas made to order with eclectic toppings including pickled endive, pickled fennel and bourbon-pickled hearts of palm
Superior Motors – renowned chef Kevin Sousa serves up his Pickles-burger, featuring house-cured pickled green tomatoes and pickled onions, plus pickled corn on the cob
Miller’s Mustard – Miller’s unleashes pickled pepper flavor in three mustards, mild, hot and habanero
Olive Tap – specialty vinegars set these pickles apart, including pickles-on-a-stick made with Lambrusco vinegar
Hours are noon to 10 p.m. July 26-27 and noon to 6 p.m. July 28.
Admission is free.
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .