Kitty Klottsalot
Photo by

The Space Upstairs

January 29
5:30 p.m.

Quick: name that pesky word that tripped you up in the elementary school or country fair spelling bee—the one that still makes you sweat.

Fans of the age-old pastime can relive the delight—and dread—when Shift Collaborative revives Pittsburgh’s one-and-only adult spelling bee, F7. Cleverly named for the Microsoft Word shortcut key for thesaurus, the fast-paced challenge invites brave contestants to test their brains and wits and vie for prizes and trophies.

Free and open to the public, the lively letter-fest is part of a second anniversary bash that the East Liberty-based creative agency is hosting at The Space Upstairs located above Construction Junction.

Designed around the suggestive theme of “Strange Pittsburgh,” bee contestants will be challenged to spell words that relate to some of the region’s most bizarre people, places and things (and we all know that Pittsburghers spell things differently and talk funny).

What’s a bee without a charismatic pronouncer? Hosting the first installment of F7 is Kitty Klottsalot, while DJs slowdanger will provide the musical accompaniment.

Featured contestants include: Michael Esposito (The BigFather), Will Stajnrajh (Fayettenam’s Finest), Jim Heinrich (Jimi Hendrix), Erika Johnson (Magical Donkey), Carissa Stajnrajh (Five Foot Dillow), Kit Mueller (Revered Arthur Belling), Mona McGraw (Supercalifrsgilistic Expialidoscious) and more.

Originally launched over a decade ago at Downtown’s vintage Chart Room—and last held in 2004—F7 was conceived by Cara Gillotti as a creative way to engage young people with words, local businesses and each other. We’re glad it’s back for act two.

Are you a budding etymologist? Sign up to be a contestant today!

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.