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Identity & Community
90.5 WESA reporters look at food issues in the region, including access, school lunch programs, food history, culture and more. Check our collection of stories below.

The Future Will Meet The Past At Picklesburgh Food Festival

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As a central H.J. Heinz Company product, pickles have played a key role in Pittsburgh’s past. And if you ask Jeremy Waldrup, president of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, they’ll play a key role in the city’s future as well.

The PDP on Wednesday announced plans for the first ever Picklesburgh food festival, slated for July 17-18 on the Rachel Carson Bridge and supported by prime sponsor H.J. Heinz.

“Americans consume 26 billion pickles per year, or nine pounds per person. Pickles are mentioned as far back as in the Bible, and also can be found in the works of Shakespeare,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Obviously, our pickle roots go back to our ethnic population as well as the commercial production dating back to the 19th century.”

Waldrup said they were inspired to organize the festival not only because of Pittsburgh’s briny past, but also due to the growing popularity of the farm-to-table movement and urban homesteading.

“Home canning and home pickling is one of the hottest do-it-yourself trends,” Waldrup said. “Picklesburgh will include a demonstration area that will allow folks to test their pickling skills and also learn how to stretch food dollars.”

A few dozen Pittsburgh restaurants will offer pickle-centric selections, but the feast won’t end with cucumbers.

“We’ll have a selection of traditional ethnic and international foods that incorporate pickling, including corned beef, kimchi, Pittsburgh’s favorite sauerkraut pierogis, and of course dilly beans,” Waldrup said.

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The festival will also feature pickle cocktails, activities for kids and live music from local bands.

And floating above it all, “a 35-foot long balloon in the shape of a Heinz pickle,” said Heinz brand manager Joe Giallanella. “High enough for folks to see from a distance but low enough for you to capture that perfect pickle selfie.”

Waldrup said they are still in the planning stages and are hoping to hear from more restaurants that want to get involved. He said if Pittsburghers have any ideas for additional activities they should get in touch via the Picklesburgh website.

Additional sponsors include Whole Foods, BNY Mellon, Future POS, KDKA-TV, The CW, BOB-FM and Q92.2.