Picklesburgh 2019 is worth relishing: Pickle beer, pickle pierogies, and more dillights

Picklesburgh will be an even bigger dill this year — twice as big, to be exact. 

The briny bash runs from Friday, July 26 through Sunday, July 28 with entertainment, demos, and all the pickled food you can imagine.

Now in its fifth year, the annual celebration of all things pickled has doubled its footprint. Picklesburgh will take over the Clemente Bridge and Fort Duquesne Boulevard between Stanwix and Seventh streets. Activities will also spill onto the North Side in front of PNC Park. The new set-up is aimed at making the whole event a little less cucumbersome.

Picklesburgh outgrew its Clemente Bridge setting last year as more than 75,000 people packed the free-to-attend festival over the weekend.

Now, there’s space for more vendors and more room for people to sit down and try their pickled concoctions — “just give people an opportunity to breathe a little bit and enjoy the festival more,” said Leigh Frank, vice president of marketing and communications at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, which hosts the event.

The event already draws crowds from outside of Pittsburgh, and that’s likely to continue as Picklesburgh was voted the No. 1 specialty food festival in America in the latest USA Today reader’s poll.

“It’s just this thing that Pittsburghers have embraced,” Frank said. “With this being our fifth year, I felt like I’d probably seen everything you could do with a pickle, and I continue to be proven wrong. There’s a whole host of new pickled merch, recipes, and food to try. We’re trying to make it a great experience for everybody who wants to attend.”

Here’s what to expect this year:

Dig in. // Renee Rosensteel for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Food and drink to relish

More than 60 vendors will sell pickled dillicacies this year. That’s up from 41 vendors last year, which was then a record. A few highlights … 

  • Beef Jerky Outlet: Dill pickle jerky
  • DiAnoia’s Eatery: Fried pickled mozzarella with pickled pepper marinara sauce
  • Gosia’s Pierogies: Pickle cheeseburger pierogies
  • Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop: Locally-brewed pickle soda, plus the first-ever chocolate covered pickle Oreo, pickle saltwater taffy, and pickle cotton candy
  • KingView Mead: Pickled watermelon rind and strawberry mead along with pickled-ginger mango hard cider
  • Klavon’s: Pickle-flavored ice cream bites (get ‘em free on Saturday while supplies last)
  • Sienna Mercato: Pickled lemonade (with vodka) and a pickled Pimm’s Cup
  • Spirit: Wood-fired thin crust pizzas made to order with toppings including pickled endive, pickled fennel, and bourbon pickled hearts of palm
  • Southern Tier Brewery and Great Lakes Brewery: Pickled beer — it sold out within hours last year, so inventory has been upped for this year
  • Superior Motors: The Pickles-burger, featuring house-cured pickled green tomatoes and pickled onions, plus pickled corn on the cob dipped in savory sprinkles
Ready, set, chug … // Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline

Pickle-juice drinking competition: A jarring experience

If the thought of guzzling a quart of pickle juice doesn’t make your stomach turn, this is the contest for you. Pre-registration has ended, but walk-up entries are available in case of no-shows. This year’s contest offers twice as many rounds as years past, so you might just have a chance. 

The champion wins a $500 cash prize and becomes the 2019 Mayor of Picklesburgh. 

If you’re looking for tips, learn from this Pickle Prince who downed 32 ounces of pickle juice in 8.34 seconds. He practiced by chugging beer and Twisted Teas.

Quite the piece of flair. // Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

This merch is worth a great dill

If you’ve ever thought, ‘my house just doesn’t smell enough like pickles,’ don’t worry — Picklesburgh has you covered with pickle-scented candles, incense, soaps, and bath bombs.

You can also stock up on pickle dresses, pants, shorts, jewelry, plates, ornaments, and special-edition golden Heinz pickle pins (free while supplies last). Plus, take home some jarred pickles. 

“You can come and find any flavor, style, kind of pickle to take home that you could possibly want,” Frank said.

Like a giant block party. // Renee Rosensteel for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Dillightful entertainment

While you’re dining on pickled fare, listen to live music from 18 local musicians, including Elias Khouri, Mars Jackson, Miss Freddye, Beauty Slap, and Sierra Sellers.

Also check out the demo tent where you can became a Dill Nye, learning to make all kinds of pickled treats.

For the tiniest cutecumbers, the Little Gherkins Kidsplay Activity Area will return, as well, with crafts and games. 

And, of course, a 35-foot pickle balloon will float above it all. Watching everybody take a selfie with the balloon is people watching at its finest. Don’t forget to take your own selfie — it’s sure to be an instant Vlasic.