As Pittsburgh transforms into Picklesburgh this weekend, get ready to cross off some items on your Yinzer Bucket List.
Picklesburgh, the pickle-themed festival produced by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, runs from noon until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday on the Roberto Clemente Bridge. Admission is free.
Each year — this is the third year for Picklesburgh — about 75,000 people attend the festival. So why is it, ahem, such a big dill?
“The event captures everything that’s really cool and interesting that’s happening in Pittsburgh’s food scene right now. We have all these … buzzed about restaurants, and they come to Picklesburgh because pickling is a big part of their menus,” said Leigh White, the Downtown Partnership’s vice president of marketing and communications. “It’s something that I think is so familiar and comfortable for people. It’s a big part of our heritage with Heinz.”
White calls the event “authentically Pittsburgh.”
And now, let’s count ’em down. These are the 10 things you must do at Picklesburgh this weekend.
10. Take a selfie with a 35-foot pickle balloon.
A hallmark of the festival, a giant pickle-shaped balloon floats above the festivities. It’s custom-built by a team known for crafting Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloons, so it’s the real dill. Snapping a selfie with this behemoth is a must, and get ready for IG to be flooded with your friends’ pickle pics.
9. Wear your pickle-loving heart on your sleeve.
Shop for Heinz T-shirts with slogans like “Pickled N’At” and “Yinz Dillirious?” There’s even a onesie that says “I’m kind of a big dill.”
8. Get some (more) pickle swag.
If it weren’t for Picklesburgh, you might not have ever known that you needed pickle-themed ornaments, drink coasters, lip balm and jewelry.
7. Enjoy live music.
Pair a pickle-packed dinner with a show. More than a dozen bands are on the schedule.
6. Meet Pvt. Pickle.
Described as a “hard-workin’ gherkin,” Heinz’s mascot Pvt. Pickle will be on-site and ready for photos.
5. Check out a pickle demonstration.
Stop by the demonstration tent for how-to demos, author talks and lessons that embrace the farm-to-table movement.
4. Take home some treats.
From PGH Sweet Pickle moonshine to pickles by the jar, these are the best kinds of souvenirs.
3. Get your very own Heinz pickle pin.
The tiny pickle souvenir has been an important memento since H.J. Heinz gave out the pickle-shaped trinkets to drum up interest at thee 1893 World’s Fair. The giveaway was such a hit that police had regulate the crowd. Tours of the H.J. Heinz factory always ended with a pickle pin.
“People love them,” White said. “That whole history, it’s just such a good combination.”
You can get your own — for free — this year at Picklesburgh.
2. Cheer on pickle juice drinkers.
Brave competitors will face-off in a pickle juice drinking challenge Saturday. The competition is broken into five heats with 10 people in each, then a final showdown at 8:30 p.m. If you need encouragement to go cheer on the contestants, White describes it this way: “I assure you, you will never be able to forget it once you’ve seen it.”
1. Try pickled foods.
This is really the key to Picklesburgh.
Pickle ice cream, brownies made with sauerkraut, chocolate covered dill pickle chips, a bacon wrapped and brie-stuffed fried pickle, dill pickle Italian ice, pickled peach sweet tea … the list goes on.
“My recommendation is to go a little bit outside of your comfort zone,” White said. “I think it’s a real opportunity to test your culinary boundaries a little bit.”