Is the Arts Festival Cursed with Rain? You Decide.

With the start of the Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburghers are asking the annual question: Is it going to rain at the festival again this year?


Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since it was first published in June of 2019.

The Three Rivers Arts Festival is celebrating its 62nd year, and as it returns closer to normal following the pandemic, festivalgoers may be wondering if the rains will be returning too? During the last pre-pandemic festival we asked: Is this rainy weather stigma true?

From 2016 to 2018, there have been scattered showers and a couple thunderstorms during the Arts Festival, according to the National Weather Service. However, these periods of rain have typically occurred in the first half of the festival, while the remainder experienced beautiful weather.

“I think it’s a myth,” said Chuck Beard, Art Director at Pittsburgh Magazine. “This is my sixth year (in 2019) as a vendor at the festival, and I’ve never had a major problem with the rain.” According to Beard, the wind is actually much worse than the rain because vendors’ products may blow away or get damaged, such as he experienced five years ago when a piece valued at $600 was damaged by the wind.

Katie Koenig, a local artist and vendor at the festival, remembered that same storm, during her first experience as a vendor.

“During tear down, we had a severe thunderstorm warning along with warnings of flash flooding and a tornado,” said Koenig. “My husband held both the corner of my tent and my neighbor’s tent to keep them from blowing away. I was really lucky that nothing was damaged, but I know a lot of artists lost their displays or work due to the storm.”

While the rain and wind were detrimental for some artists and vendors, painter Mike Schiavone finds that inclement weather can have some perks, too. “My tent is fancy and pretty much waterproof, so I always invite attendees to shelter in my tent when the rain is heavy, which is always fun! It turns into a little party!”

As of Friday morning, the forecast from the National Weather Service calls for dry weather through Monday evening, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms through Thursday.

So is the festival’s rainy reputation deserved? That’s up to you to decide.

“I believe that it does rain every year during the festival, but that the belief has become more of a myth. With a 10-day festival in Pittsburgh, we are bound to get

With Pittsburgh’s ever-so-loved unpredictable weather, though, the forecast will most likely change. Who knows? Most of the 2021 festival could happen under clear and sunny skies.

Click here for daily updates on festival activities.

Categories: The 412