The EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta takes over Point State Park

It's the summer dream: lying on a sandy beach, eating barbecued ribs and watching Australian shepherds jump 78 inches in the air. And, it's all in your backyard.

The EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta is celebrating 37 years of entertainment on land, in the water and in the air through Friday.

The event will draw more than half a million people, according to John Bonassi, the regatta's chairman of the board, and there won't be a dull moment. The goal of the regatta is to provide a free weekend of events that will appeal to people of all ages, from toddlers to grandparents.

Three Rivers Regatta lineup a mix of traditional and new

Michael Dongilli talks about the variety of events at this year's Three Rivers Regatta, which begins today and runs through Friday. (Video by Nate Guidry; 7/2/2014)

Here are five highlights:


This year, four Australian shepherds and a half border collie/half cattle dog will jump, run and catch Frisbees at the K9 Crew Trick Dog Show in the grass at Point State Park.

All but one dog are rescues, and each has a different skill, from walking on hind legs to doing back flips to catching a Frisbee.

Rockin-Rory, an Australian shepherd, claimed national fame on "America's Got Talent" in 2009 as the first animal act in the history of the show. Although he's now 13, he still opens the show. Mowgli, another Australian shepherd, also plays Frisbee but jumps through hoops, jumps rope and can jump up to 78 inches off the ground.

"Each dog has a big talent in our show. Whatever they offer us, we try to build on that, and it's the ultimate canine spectacular. We try to make sure it's fun for everybody, and we try to give facts about dogs," said Tony Hoard, owner of K9 Crew Trick Dog Show.

This will be this group's first year at the regatta, and he promises to offer an exciting show that will appeal to various groups of people.

"It's more like a variety show. ... People get tired of seeing dogs catch Frisbees, so we try to build on the uniqueness of what we do and the different variety of what the dogs do in our shows. That's what sets our show apart, so I think people will enjoy what we do," Mr. Hoard said.


For three days during the regatta, the beach will be coming to Pittsburgh. Sand will be dumped onto the steps of the Allegheny River, and the 200-foot "shore" will be decorated with ferns and tropical plants. Buckets and shovels will be provided as well.

"Many young children who enjoy the beach have never been to the beach, so this is a unique experience," Mr. Bonassi said. The event is sponsored by the Colcom Foundation, an organization committed to ensuring quality of life and sustainability in light of population growth.

The foundation will be providing myriad events, such as a misting zone and face painters on the city-side lawn of Point State Park.

"Don't be fooled -- The parents love it as much as the kids do," Mr. Bonassi said.


Although XPogo made a small appearance at the regatta last year, Point State Park will be home to the second of the three-part world championship tour throughout the weekend.

The international competition will draw the top 30 to 40 Pogo athletes in the world, from Russia to Canada, who will compete for world records and medals.

The event will culminate with a final World Championship Show from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at Point State Park.

"That opens up a lot of entertainment that wasn't here last year," said Michael Dongilli, vice president of regatta producer ISM/USA. "There will be nothing short of 13 world records in pogo jumping. ... We think that that's gonna be really cool."

Free pogo sticking will be offered at the XPOGO Free Family Jumping on the river-side lawn at Point State Park. Families can come learn to pogo stick and gain tips and tricks from the experts.


Rolling into the regatta will be an 80-foot-long 18-wheeler truck, with the potential to cook up to 2,000 pounds of smoked and barbecued meat at once. The Ultimate Smoker and Grill will come in conjunction with the History Channel, which will be bringing in various events for the regatta.

Celebrities from "Swamp People" and "Counting Cars" will offer photos and autographs, and a mechanical gator will be available for pictures.


This popular event recently made a comeback at the regatta after many members of the board pushed for more participation and attention to the competition. In the past few years, it has gained in popularity, garnering a couple more entries each year.

"Over the last three or four years we've had more vessels, and this year we have more than 20 competing," Mr. Bonassi said.

First-place winners will receive $2,500, second place will win $1,500 and third will take home $1,000. A special prize will be given for "anything that sinks fast."

"It's absolutely hysterical. You need to see it," Mr. Bonassi said. "I'm looking forward to it because I remember how popular it was years ago. A number of us on the board have pushed to bring it back full sailing ahead."


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