Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on July 27, 2023.
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If there should be an award for a festival that has come the furthest in recent years, it would most certainly be Picklesburgh.
When the event first started in 2015, we were underwhelmed. The Clemente Bridge was crowded shoulder-to-shoulder with patrons, and the number of vendors with pickle themed products was, well, few and far between. Apart from the gigantic pickle floating over the bridge, we did not get any pickle love at all.
Thankfully, after a while, this festival came around and became one of the premier pickle festivals out there. The crowds kept getting bigger and bigger (to a detriment, at times), and Picklesburgh became one of the top events in Pittsburgh each and every year.
Note: In 2023, Picklesburgh moved to PPG Place and Blvd of the Allies from its former location on the Roberto Clemente Bridge and along the highway on the riverfront. Pictures from both locations are included in this article.
Everything Pickles at Picklesburgh
As its name suggests, Picklesburgh is now the event to go to in order to get your pickle fix. In previous visits, we spotted such pickle gems as normal as a pickle on a stick to as obscure as pickle-flavored Oreos from Grandpa Joe's Candy in the Strip District.
There were pickle stuffed pretzels, pickle beer from Southern Tier, pickle cocktails, pickle sushi, chocolate-covered pickles, kimchi, sandwiches with pickles, tahini pickle ice cream from Millie's, pickle-flavored moonshine, picklelixir, pickle cooking demos, and of course, plenty of pickle samples to try.
Or, if you were feeling really bold, you can also participate in a pickle juice drinking competition (of which we got to judge a preliminary round thanks to our friends at YaJagoff who are hosts of the event). The record time? Under five seconds to consume 32 ounces.
We'll stick to judging this one, although if you wish to enter, sign up early as spots go fast!
Then there were the non-food items that were pickle themed, including shirts, helium balloons, pottery, tea towels, and of course, the historic pickle pins from Heinz themselves- a staple since 1893 when they were introduced at the World's Fair.
Suffice it to say, if you want something pickle-related, Picklesburgh is the place to be.
Some were winners (you can never go wrong with pickles on a sandwich or kimchi), others, not so much (pickle ice cream is a hard pass for us). In any case, we're really impressed with how far this one has come along and the sheer volume of pickle-related products you can try in the compact festival area.
A Few Picklesburgh Logistics
As we mentioned at the start of this article, Picklesburgh is an incredibly popular event that has no shortage of crowds, and as such we have a few logistic items to keep in mind in order to have the best experience.
First, as of 2023, the event takes place on Blvd of the Allies and in PPG Place in downtown Pittsburgh. This was a marked improvement from previous years due to not being constrained to being on a bridge; however, the impressive number of people visiting for the event remains.
For those who want to park nearby, we would recommend parking further away and walking if at all possible (if you can take a bus or the T in, even better!). This is partly because traffic downtown is even worse due to road closures, and also because nearby garages fill up completely. The Sixth and Ft. Duquesne or Smithfield and Liberty garages would be the closest we would consider parking downtown. (We recommend checking with ParkPGH before heading out if you need parking to see what real-time availability is like.)
Second, the event occurs from noon to 10pm on Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6pm on Sunday. As this event is quite popular, expect it to fill with patrons just 30 minutes or so after opening, and it is not an exaggeration to say that even in downtown the space will be shoulder-to-shoulder with people and vendors will have 15-20+ deep lines at all times.
As such, getting in early is your best chance to enjoy this one without being packed in with the crowds. Despite the new location in 2023, it is still a packed event.
Finally, many of the restaurant vendors serve specialty cocktail creations along with their food, but we were told that cocktail sales are restricted to after roughly 4:00 pm on Friday and Saturday and between 12 and 5pm on Sunday. We did see beer sales at opening, however.
Overall, it isn't a stretch to say that Picklesburgh has come along way in its short history. During the first year of the event, we were not impressed. But now this one truly is the premier event for all things pickle in Pittsburgh.
The only question we have now is this: can you handle the crowds?
Picklesburgh takes place each July in downtown Pittsburgh.
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