Things To Do This Weekend in Pittsburgh
Top Pick: Bananas, Ice Cream, Cherries and a Whole Lot More in Latrobe
When I was a small child, I hated being called “buddy.”
Yes, I am going somewhere with this.
For some reason, the term buddy bothered me on a visceral level. Unable to convince my father to cut it out of his vocabulary, I struck a deal: If he accidentally called me buddy, I earned a banana split as an apology. Even at age 5, I recognized this as a win-win; at all times, I would either be receiving a banana split or not being called buddy.
The dessert, after all, is a powerful creation: A perfectly balanced collision of fruit and ice cream, topped with pretty much anything you feel is worthy. What I didn’t know is that my bargain also honored local history; while the history is a bit murky, consensus holds that the banana split was invented in the early 1900s in nearby Latrobe. Naturally, the town now proudly hosts the annual Banana Split Celebration.
There’s much more than peels and scoops at this weekend-long affair, however. Activities abound, from pie-eating contests to car shows to the 5K Banana Run (you’ll need that to burn off all the fudge).
There’s also a bushel of music on three stages, including a Saturday-night set from the Crystal Blue Band — an old-school rock-and-roll outfit featuring original members of Tommy James & the Shondells, the ’60s hitmakers behind such favorites as “Mony Mony,” “Crimson & Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Hanky Panky.” Several Shondells were from western Pennsylvania; the Banana Fest gig is being billed as the final live performance for the Crystal Blue Band.
Joe Grushecky plays Sunday afternoon, among a weekend full of events. Bring the kids — or, if you don’t have any, head to the dedicated over-21 area, where we sincerely hope they serve banana moonshine.
More This Weekend
If we may be so bold, we’d very much like to invite you to our own party this Saturday night: The annual Pittsburgh Whiskey & Fine Spirits Festival, once again presented in the lovely Events Center at Rivers Casino. Distillers and whiskey brands from around the world will offer samples, cocktails and more; if you find a new favorite, head to the onsite Fine Wine & Good Spirits store to take a bottle home. Try some drinks, enjoy an included buffet dinner, put a few bucks on roulette downstairs — make a night of it. (Just consider finding a ride home, would you?)
Skipping ahead a bit to Tuesday: While plenty of people inexplicably prefer to sweat under the sun’s rage in July, we’re of the opinion that we’re just getting to prime outdoor-event season now — warm enough to be comfortable, nowhere near hot enough to make you long for conditioned air. That makes it high time to visit The Highline, the lovely new outdoor hangout on the southern banks of the Monongahela. If you haven’t seen the spot yet, the folks at Chamber Music Pittsburgh have a good reason to come on down: The final night of the free Just Summer Series. BYO lawn chair and pick up some food and drinks from the on-site Sly Fox Brewery, then enjoy music from Pittsburgh’s own INEZ, a rising star with a soulful, genre-hopping sound.
And now for something completely different: Silent film with live organ! The Pittsburgh Area Theatre Organ Society works to keep the art of live movie accompaniment alive but have been dormant since before the pandemic; they return Saturday night, when organist Clark Wilson will play along with Buster Keaton’s classic 1924 comedy Sherlock Jr. An antique Wurlitzer pipe organ doesn’t travel easily, though, so you’ll have to go to its home: Keystone Oaks High School.
There’s more outdoor music afoot, as the annual Rock, Reggae & Relief benefit, a Downtown concert to support Cafe Momentum Pittsburgh, takes over Forbes Avenue this Saturday. British pop-reggae band UB40, best known for their groovy covers of “Red Red Wine” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” will headline the show, with support from members of the Wailers and many more.
To close with another worthy charity, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) will mark its 50th anniversary with the aptly named Summer PAARty this Thursday night at Square Café. Your $50 donation gets you complimentary cocktails, bites, live music and more — and, more importantly, supports an essential cause.
Looking for more ideas? Check out our full events calendar here.