Picklesburgh: THE Destination for all Things Pickled
Jun 30, 2018 11:45AM
By Vanessa Orr
Pickle enthusiasts rejoice! It’s time to pucker up and get ready for a “dill-ightful” three-day weekend of celebrating the green fruit. (Interesting fact: Pickles are technically a fruit because they have seeds, but since they are made from cucumbers, they are generally known as a vegetable!)
Hosted by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, this year marks the fourth anniversary of this delicious event. “Culinary fests are a major draw for tourists and locals alike,” said Leigh Ann White, vice president of marketing and communications for the organization. “Nowadays, there is a food or drink celebration to match practically every interest or indulgence and, as annual events, these food festivals generate excitement year in and year out. Picklesburgh is no different!”
White estimated that more than 75,000 people came to the Roberto Clemente (Sixth St.) Bridge to celebrate the event last year, which is why the committee made the decision to add an extra day at this year’s pickle fest. “It’s different, it’s quirky, and it’s just fun!” she said.
The event is also authentic. In 1893 at the Chicago’s World Fair, Pittsburgh’s own Henry J. Heinz nearly caused a riot with a 1-inch, green plastic pickle pin promotion. Since then, the company has passed out more than 150 million pickle pins to pickle lovers everywhere.
According to Statista, 233.12 million Americans consumed 26 billion pickles in 2017. This equals nine pounds of pickles per person! “The pickle trend has really evolved over the past couple of decades,” said White. “Pickles are not just for sandwiches or hamburgers anymore. They’re being used in all kinds of recipes, including dessert! The distinct flavor and the high-in-vitamin, low-in-calorie factor are what make the pickle so appealing and versatile.”
The event features more than 35 vendors showing off their creative pickle inspirations. “We have seen pickle egg rolls, kimchi pickle pierogis, bacon-wrapped and brie-stuffed fried pickles on a stick, pickle and peanut butter cookies, pickled fudge and chocolate covered dill pickle chips and, my favorite, pickled ginger ice cream,” said White. “I’m serious when I say it is all so amazingly good!”
For those who want to continue the pickle party at home, there are vendors who sell pickle sauces, rubs and jams, pickled garlic, relishes, and even pickle juice soda. “The selection of edible and nonedible pickle-themed items is basically endless,” said White.
She is also excited to share a first for Picklesburgh this year—pickled beer! “Southern Tier and Great Lakes breweries will be showcasing their new pickle beers at the event, and we can’t wait to try it,” White said. And for those who enjoy a wee indulgence now and again, there are plans for a not-so-sour surprise in the adult beverage industry to be unveiled at the festival as well!
Picklesbugh will be held Friday, July 20 through Sunday, July 22 and will feature live music, demonstrations, shopping, and a Lil’ Gherkins activity area with pickle-themed arts and crafts for the kids. And of course, for a yearly pickle festival, it’s mandatory that there is a pickle juice drinking contest.
“Participants compete to be the fastest to consume a quart of pickle juice. There are multiple heats throughout the day and I can promise you that just loving pickles will NOT win you this contest,” laughed White.
So whether you’re a pickle-loving toddler or a granny who craves gherkins, follow the 35-foot pickle balloon to your free admission into Picklesburgh. The weekend promises to be a big “dill.”
To see a festival schedule, visit www.picklesburgh.com.