Yesterday afternoon, a crowd gathered at the Heinz History Center for a big announcement from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. And I doubt anyone there imagined that it would include a giant flying pickle and pickle juice drinking contests. Welcome to Picklesburgh.

The inaugural Picklesburgh festival will take place on July 17th and 18th on the Rachel Carson Bridge. “We can’t wait to give our friends and neighbors something new to ‘relish’ in the dog days of summer,” said the PDP’s Jeremy Waldrup, just one of many groaners tossed out during the afternoon. The festival will revel in all things pickled and fermented, from dilly beans to kimchi to pickle flavored ice cream.

Following in the footsteps of the duck, the centerpiece of Picklesburgh will be a 35-foot Heinz pickle balloon, surely prompting a new torrent of selfies this summer. Beyond pickles and pickle-inspired snacks from more than 40 vendors, Picklesburgh will also feature cocktails with pickled ingredients, pickling demonstrations and live music.

Pickles have long been an “iconic Pittsburgh food,” said Waldrup. If you need proof, just think of the classic Heinz pickle pin or the city’s beloved sauerkraut pierogi. The annual free festival, sponsored by Heinz, Whole Foods and BNY Mellon (among others), hopes to use that iconic food to draw crowds from Pittsburgh and beyond. So mark your calendars and get ready to celebrate Pittsburgh, summer, and some dill-lightful pickles.

Drew Cranisky

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.